Police Unions Criticize NYPD’s Retreat From Home of Suspect Accused on Assaulting Officer

Several police unions in New York City have issued a rebuke over a New York Police Department’s (NYPD) decision to retreat from the home of a suspect, who is accused of assaulting a police officer, after an hours-long standoff.
On Friday, dozens of NYPD officers, some wearing tactical gear, showed up at the home of a protest organizer Derrick Ingram in Hell’s Kitchen attempting to arrest the 28-year-old, who is accused of assaulting an officer by yelling in her ear with a megaphone at a recent demonstration.
As the officers did not have a warrant to enter his home, it created a stalemate that lasted for about 6 hours. Police left without arresting him at the order of Police Commissioner Dermot Shea after protesters flooded the street of the operation. Ingram, who is the co-founder of Warriors in The Garden, live-streamed the incident, which drew the attention of fellow protesters.
The withdrawal was criticized by several of the city’s police unions who said the decision endangered the lives of the police officers present and demanded an explanation for the action.
“By walking away from arresting a man who was wanted for previously assaulting a cop and backing down to an angry mob, the lives of detectives and their fellow cops were endangered and their valuable time was wasted,” Paul DiGiacomo, the association’s president, said in a statement on social media. “Cops wonder why they even bother and the New Yorkers they proudly want to serve are losing their city. The Mayor and leaders at the NYPD owe NY’s finest an explanation. NO LEADERSHIP!”
Similarly, Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association of New York City, shared similar sentiments, also demanding an explanation for the action.
“The NYPD’s top brass better start talking: Who really issued the order to retreat?” Lynch said in a statement on social media. “Who put police officers in the dangerous position of backdown in the face of an angry mob?”
“They have set an unbelievably damaging precedent. Police officers and all New Yorkers deserve to know who signed off on the NYPD’s literal surrender to criminals.”
In a statement, Warriors in The Garden, a group formed in the wake of George Floyd’s death, characterized the police operation as an “attempt to silence our movement.” The group says they have been advocating for police accountability and systematic policy change in response to the tensions between law enforcement and certain minority groups.
“This militarized police response endangers the safety of residents in Hell’s Kitchen and across NYC. We demand to know: where are the NYC council and NYC Leadership?” the group said in their statement on social media.
Ingram turned himself in on Saturday at the Midtown North Precinct, according to posts on the group’s Twitter page. According to a complaint, he was charged with second-degree assault and obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, which was later reduced to third-degree assault at arraignment, according to a reporter with the Gothamist. He was also released without bail.

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Trump Takes Executive Action to Provide Reduced Enhanced Unemployment Payment

President Donald Trump took executive action on Saturday to extend the weekly enhanced unemployment payment at a reduced level.
He signed a memorandum during a press conference on Saturday afternoon as the negotiations between the White House and the Democrats collapsed.
The new payment will be $400 per week. The federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost while the states will pay the rest, he said.
The president said that some governors will not be happy with the executive order, suggesting that he didn’t negotiate with all governors before the announcement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.
The president also, via executive orders or memorandums, deferred payroll tax for Americans earning less than $100,000 per year from Sept. 1, authorized The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to offer eviction protections to renters and homeowners, and extended the term of relief to student loan borrowers from Sept. 30 to the end of the year.
The payment—which was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and was $600 per week on top of existing unemployment benefits—expired on July 31. The White House and the Democrats failed to reach a deal on extending the payment.
The White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin started negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Aug. 1.
“At this point, it’s clear Democrats want to play politics with American jobs,” Meadows wrote in a Twitter post right before Trump’s press conference. “Since Democrats won’t step up and do their job, @realdonaldtrump will do it for them.”

At this point, it’s clear Democrats want to play politics with American jobs.
To workers all over the country: D.C. Democrats may not have your back, but President Trump does.
Since Democrats won’t step up and do their job, @realdonaldtrump will do it for them.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) August 8, 2020

There are several areas in which the two sides disagree with each other. The Democrats want a comprehensive stimulus package costing $3.4 trillion, while the White House prefers a smaller bill as the first step in addressing the most important issues, including an extension of enhanced unemployment payments and eviction protections for tenants.
Pelosi and Schumer also want $915 billion in aid for state and local governments included in the bill, to which the White House offered $150 billion.
Trump said on Saturday that many requirements from the Democrats are irrelevant to the outbreak, including bailout money for states and local governments, articles to ban voter ID and signature verification, and universal mail-in ballots.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are blocking measures supporting K-12 school reopening, additional money for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), additional money for hospitals, testing, and vaccines, and direct payments of $3,400 for families of four, he said.
The president said on Friday that he will use executive power to extend the enhanced unemployment payment and suspend the payroll tax.
He announced during an unplanned press conference on Friday that he would defer the payroll tax until the end of the year, enhance unemployment benefits until the end of the year, defer student loan payments and forgive interest indefinitely, and reinstate a federal moratorium on evictions.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as novel coronavirus and caused the disease of COVID-19, originated from Wuhan city in China and has infected over 19 million people and claimed lives of more than 718,000 outside China according to government data collected by The Johns Hopkins University.
The Chinese regime claimed—which has been highly doubted—that there are only 88,649 infection and 4,681 death inside China.
It’s widely reported that the Chinese regime covered up the outbreak and refused to share information with other countries. As a result of the outbreak, countries around the world became more aware of the dangers of the Chinese regime and its socialist ideologies.

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Appeals Court Lifts Block on Arkansas Abortion Restrictions

A federal appeals court reversed a ruling that blocked several Arkansas laws that created barriers for women seeking abortions in the state.
Judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on Friday (pdf) overturned a lower court’s preliminary injunction, effectively allowing the state to enforce some of its abortion restrictions. The three-judge panel said their decision stemmed from “Chief Justice Roberts’s separate opinion in June Medical” and another prior court case from the Supreme Court.
In that opinion issued in June, cited as June Medical Services LLC v. Russo (pdf), the court rejected a law that puts restrictions on abortion providers in Louisiana. Roberts, in that case, voted with the liberal judges in the 5-4 ruling but issued his own concurring opinion agreeing with the judgment but not the reasoning of the majority opinion.
Roberts said his decision was guided by the principle that the court should treat similar cases alike, also known as the legal doctrine of stare decisis.
“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents,” Roberts wrote.
The 8th Circuit panel noted that Roberts discussed at length the court’s role in deciding cases about abortion regulation, saying that state and federal legislatures have “wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.”
The Chief Justice said the top court’s appropriate inquiry, according to a prior court case, is to decide whether the law poses a “substantial obstacle” or “substantial burden, not whether benefits outweighed burdens.”
The panel said that when the district court ruled on the Arkansas case, they did so without the guidance of Robert’s separate opinion in June Medical. The judges, therefore, vacated the district court’s order and remanded it back to that court for reconsideration in light of Robert’s ruling.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. Frederick Hopkins, a Little Rock abortion provider.
Attorneys from ACLU expressed disappointment with the decision, saying that they are evaluating their next steps in order to continue to fight the laws.
“These onerous restrictions were designed with the singular intent to take away the right to abortion and punish people for seeking care,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas legal director and interim executive director, in a statement.
“This ruling is a reminder that the fight against these extreme abortion restrictions is far from won. We are evaluating our next steps and will continue to fight to ensure these harmful and unconstitutional laws do not take effect,” she said.
Hillary Schneller, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, expressed similar sentiments, saying that they will exhaust their legal options to ensure the laws will not take effect. The restrictions remain blocked until after August 28, when the appeals court decision takes effect.
“There is no question that these laws would make it harder to access abortion in Arkansas. The Supreme Court just weeks ago reaffirmed that a state cannot pass laws that unduly burden a person’s access to abortion, and that is exactly what these laws do,” Schneller said.
Meanwhile, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauded the decision, saying that as the chief legal officer in the state he will continue to defend the state’s legal right to protect unborn children.
“No defenseless baby should ever face the unimaginable and horrifying fate of death by dismemberment,” Rutledge said in a statement.
The laws in question were passed in 2017 and include the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act; the Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act; an amendment regarding the disposal of fetal remains; and an amendment addressing the maintenance of fetal remain [sic] samples.

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Again Tests Negative for Coronavirus

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The fourth COVID-19 test result for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine came back negative Saturday after he received conflicting positive and negative results two days before, ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Trump.
The governor and first lady, Fran DeWine, were tested at Ohio State University “out of an abundance of caution” following a rollercoaster day Thursday that began with DeWine receiving a positive test result followed by two negatives. The governor announced the negative results on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, thanking “everyone who sent along good wishes.”
The Republican governor had to take a COVID-19 test Thursday morning in Cleveland as part of White House protocol for anyone scheduled to come in contact with the president. DeWine was administered a rapid point-of-care antigen test at a mobile testing site facilitated by the Republican National Committee, according to DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney.
DeWine then headed to meet Trump at the airport to greet him.
“I was fully expecting to see the president that morning,” DeWine said in a press conference Friday. “But as we were driving to the airport to meet him, I was called and told about my positive result.”
DeWine was immediately driven back to Columbus, where the governor, his wife, and four members of his staff took another test, a polymerase chain reaction test, at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
That test is the most commonly used test in the country and is considered the gold standard by medical professionals. More than 1.3 million Ohioans have been tested with it.
The result was checked twice, both negative.
The conflicting results underscore the problems with both kinds of tests and are bound to spur more questions about them. Many people in the United States can’t get lab results on the more accurate version for weeks, rather than the few hours it took the governor to find out.
By Farnoush Amiri

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Ex-green Berets Sentenced to 20 Years for Venezuela Attack

CARACAS, Venezuela—A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a blunder-filled beach attack aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro.
Lawyers for the former Green Berets, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, said they were barred from the secretive jailhouse proceedings Friday night in what they consider a violation of their constitutional rights to a defense.
Maduro’s chief prosecutor announced the surprise decision late Friday night.
“THEY ADMITTED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACTS,” Tarek William Saab announced on Twitter, adding that proceedings will continue against dozens of other defendants accused of assisting in the May 3 raid. He did not offer details.
“Operation Gideon” was launched from makeshift training camps in neighboring Colombia and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while more than 60 more were jailed.
Ex Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who operated a Florida-based security firm called Silvercorp USA, claimed responsibility for the failed attack and had hired his two former army buddies to prepare a small cadre of deserting Venezuelan soldiers living at the makeshift camps. Venezuelan prosecutors have ordered his arrest. Goudreau is believed to be in the United States, where he also is under investigation for possibly violating arms trafficking laws in connection to the botched incursion.
Denman and Berry, both decorated former U.S. service members, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism, Saab said.
But lawyers for the men said the hearing was marred by irregularities.
Alonso Medina Roa said he was hired a month ago by the families of the two Americans but has so far been barred from meeting or speaking with his clients.
In violation of their constitutional rights to a defense, he said, Judge Máximo Marquez never informed him of Friday night’s proceedings at the headquarters of the SEBIN police, where the men are being held. They were represented instead by a public defender. It’s unknown if a translator was present.
The two Americans arrested in a coastal fishing community have ever since been paraded by officials on Venezuelan state TV as proof of their long-held claims that the United States is set on violently overthrowing Maduro’s socialist government.
The incident also prompted claims that U.S. backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó had authorized Goudreau through a signed agreement to carry out the attack, executed by two of Guaidó’s former political advisors in the United States.
U.S. officials have denied any role in the attack but have not said what knowledge they had about the clandestine camps in Colombia, details of which were made public by an AP investigation two days prior to the raid. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would use all possible means to win the freedom of Denman and Berry.
U.S. officials also have demanded freedom for six jailed American oil executives from Houston-based Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil monopoly, who had been lured to Caracas for a meeting and then arrested on corruption charges, which all deny.
A day before the two ex-Green Berets were sentenced, the corruption trial began for the so-called Citgo 6. The case had lingered since their arrest two years and eight months ago until former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson met in July with Maduro in Caracas to urge they be released and returned home to the United States.
Richardson on Saturday said he would also work to free the convicted veterans, who are both natives of Texas.
“Luke Denman and Airan Berry are American citizens and military veterans who deserve our support,” he said. “We will continue our dialogue with the Venezuelans to try to find a way to bring them back home to their families.”
Both cases play out amid hostility between Washington and Caracas. The Trump administration last year threw its support behind opposition leader Guaidó, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president by 60 nations pledging to oust Maduro.
Guaidó blames Maduro for the once wealthy nation’s economic and social collapse, while the socialist leader, who is wanted in the United States on narcoterrorism charges, says Washington is using Guaidó to steal the nation’s vast oil wealth.
Medina Roa said that while Maduro may be looking to negotiate a political deal with the United States for the Green Berets’ release, authorities don’t need to trample further on Venezuela’s constitution to achieve their goals.
“It’s a perversion of justice to violate their constitutional rights for future political gain,” said Medina Roa.
By Scott Smith and Joshua Goodman

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Surge In Number of Americans Moving In With Older Family Members Amid Pandemic: Fed Study

Researchers at the Federal Reserve have noted a surge in the number of Americans moving in with older family members during the pandemic, with the shift impacting certain demographics more sharply than others.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the living arrangements of millions of Americans,” said Daniel Garcia and Andrew Paciorek, authors of the Aug. 7 study, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on living arrangements and household formation in the United States.
Looked at by age, younger adults were chiefly affected, followed by adults over the age of 70, suggesting some parents may have moved in with their adult children amid the outbreak. Those with a lower level of education were also more likely to move back home during the outbreak, as were those who were unemployed ahead of the pandemic.
Broken down by race, the increase in the fraction of adults living with family was especially sharp for blacks, who make up some 13 percent of the adult population in America, but accounted for almost half of the increase in living with family since the pandemic began.
Overall, the Fed researchers found that two key measures of adults sharing a household in the United States surged between February and June of this year by roughly the same amount as during the entire Great Recession.
The percentage of Americans living with family was roughly flat at 17 percent from 1995 to 2005, then spiked to almost 20 percent from 2005 to 2010. After holding steady from 2010 to 2020, this percentage shot up by around one percentage point in 2020.

Percentage of adults living with family from 1995 to June 2020, Fed researchers’ calculations based on monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) data. (Federal Reserve / CPS)
Another measure of adult Americans living under the same roof can be expressed as a ratio known as the “headship rate.” A drop in this ratio, which can be expressed as a percentage, it means more adult Americans have shifted their living arrangements to occupy the same household.
“The aggregate headship rate in the U.S. has fallen dramatically since February, in large part because people have moved back in with older family members,” the researchers said.
The headship rate fell by around one percent during the 2008-2010 Great Recession. It then held roughly steady through the 2010s and plummeted by one percentage point in April 2020, when the country was rocked by a pandemic surge.
Following COVID-19-driven lockdowns and a corresponding plunge in consumer spending, the unemployment rate in the United States shot up from a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February to 14.7 percent in April.
While a variety of changes in living arrangements during the pandemic account for the drop, which corresponds to an increase of around 2 million vacant housing units, the decline is mostly driven by a large increase in the fraction of adults living with family members who are not their spouses, the researchers said.

Aggregate headship rate from 1995 to June 2020, according to Fed researchers’ calculations based on monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) data. (Federal Reserve/CPS)
The researchers predicted that as schools reopen and employment picks up, the headship rate will rebound as more Americans move into separate households again.
Yet due to possible factors like rising housing costs or growing debt loads, no such rebound took place after the Great Recession, the researchers said, adding that it “seems possible this recession will also have a scarring effect on headship and household formation.” This, in turn, could squeeze new housing construction, and have a long-lasting effect on wealth accumulation and inequality, they concluded.

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Remains of Marines, Sailor Recovered From Amphibious Vehicle Sunk Off California Coast

The remains of seven Marines and a sailor were recovered Friday from an amphibious assault vehicle that had sunk on July 30 off the coast of California’s San Clemente Island.
Their remains will soon be transferred to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be prepared for burial, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.
They will then be released to their families in accordance with their wishes.
“Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a statement. “We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort.”

Eight Marines and one sailor have died after an accident involving an amphibious vehicle off the coast of Southern California on July 30, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Kassie McDole/U.S. Marine Corps)
As previously reported by CNN, the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) suffered a mishap off San Clemente Island during a routine training exercise.
Sixteen personnel were on board the AAV when the crew reported taking on water during a shore-to-ship waterborne operations training. Five crew members were rescued from the sinking AAV and returned to their ship, the USS Somerset. Two Marines were hospitalized.
Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene. His remains were transferred on Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base.
After an extensive two-day search, the 15th MEU concluded its search and rescue effort for the eight missing service members. The sunken AAV was located Monday.
The cause of the incident is still under investigation and similar training has been suspended while officials learn more about the incident.
The eight other deceased service members were identified on Monday as:
• Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, California, a rifleman
• Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California, a rifleman
• Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a rifleman
• U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California
• Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 20, of Bend, Oregon, a rifleman
• Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 22, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman
• Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Oregon, a rifleman
• Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California, a rifleman
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Alleged Victims Get Chance to Challenge Plea Deal, Appeal Court Rules

Alleged victims of deceased convicted sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein will have a chance to challenge a federal non-prosecution agreement—often referred to as Epstein’s “sweetheart” plea deal—that was signed more than a decade ago.
Courtney Wild, an Epstein accuser originally known as Jane Doe 1, as well as another plaintiff known as Jane Doe 2, had filed an original lawsuit in 2008 to overturn the non-prosecution agreement. They argued that the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors had violated their rights under the 2004 Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CRVA) by sealing the deal without consulting with or informing the alleged victims.
The Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit court ruled on Friday (pdf) that the alleged victims will have their case reheard en banc—a legal term to mean that a case gets to be heard before the entire bench of a court, rather than just by a panel of judges selected from the bench. The decision vacates a previous 11th Circuit three-judge panel’s 2-1 ruling in April that had rejected Wild’s argument.
“I had confidence this day would come,” Wild said in a statement to media outlets. “We have fought for 12 years, and as I’ve said before, no matter how many obstacles pile up, we will never give up fighting for what is right.”

Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry on March 28, 2017, and obtained by Reuters on July 10, 2019. (New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via Reuters)

The non-prosecution agreement was signed in 2007 with the DOJ through the Southern District of Florida in Miami. Former Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta was the U.S. Attorney at the time. Acosta resigned after Epstein was arrested under separate new charges in July 2019.
The plea deal relates to when Epstein was previously charged in 2007 with operating an international child sex ring involving at least 30 underage girls, of which Wild was allegedly a part of, at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion and Little St. James Island—a 72-acre private island estate in the Caribbean.
The plea deal, as shown attached in a recent federal court filing (pdf), involved Epstein pleading guilty in 2008 to just two felony counts of soliciting an underage prostitute in state court, rather than federal court. Epstein had to register as a sex offender. Epstein also provided undisclosed information to authorities under the deal.
In exchange, Epstein avoided serious time behind bars, serving just under 13 months in a private section of the Palm Beach County jail in Florida. During that time, he was afforded a work-release program that allowed him to leave the jail for 12 hours each day, six days a week, and work unsupervised at his downtown West Palm Beach office. Epstein’s 13-month sentence is believed to be one of the most lenient in U.S. history for a sex offender.
Epstein’s lawyers had argued that according to the plea deal, he was immune to any new federal charges for crimes committed during the time period of around 2001 through around September 2007.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, New York, on July 1, 2019. (Richard Drew/AP Photo)
Epstein died at age 66 in August 2019 in a New York jail, and was determined to have committed suicide by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. His death triggered multiple investigations.
Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime associate, now faces charges of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls from 1994 to 1997, and is being jailed in New York. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years in prison.
Petition
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra in February 2019 ruled (pdf) that prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, including Acosta, broke the law (the CRVA) when they did not inform the alleged 30 victims of the plea deal in 2007.
In September 2019, Marra ruled to close the case brought by Wild and Jane Doe 2, thereby not scrapping the 2007 plea deal.
He denied almost every request for relief, including ruling that they were are not owed any money damages from the U.S. government, and refused to fulfill their demand that the government turn over FBI records linked to its investigation of Epstein. He also said that Epstein’s death in August 2019 made the case moot.
In an opinion, Marra wrote that the alleged victims’ request for restitution is “essentially a request for money damages from the government, which is not allowed under the CVRA.”
In a challenge to Marra’s decision, Wild filed a petition with the appeals court in October 2019, asking the court to order Marra to provide relief to the alleged sex victims. In April, the 11th Circuit three-judge panel ruled (pdf) that the CRVA does not protect alleged victims before formal charges are filed. At the time the plea deal was struck, no charges were filed.
The latest appeals court ruling on Friday nullifies the three-judge panel’s ruling.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and former Sens. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who drafted and co-sponsored the CRVA, had filed an amicus brief (pdf) in May in support of Wild’s petition for rehearing en banc.
“This is an important ruling for crime victims, not just for Epstein’s victims but all victims of federal crimes,” Wild’s lawyers, Paul Cassell and Brad Edwards, told the Miami Herald on Friday. “We look forward to arguing before the full Eleventh Circuit that [the] ‘secret’ plea deal violates the Crime Victims’ Rights Act and that this particular deal should be rescinded.”

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. Placed on Indefinite Leave

The executive committee of Liberty University’s board of trustees voted to place Jerry Falwell Jr., the college’s president, on indefinite leave after a photograph of him with a woman was posted online.
The committee, acting on behalf of the full board, “met today and requested that Jerry Falwell Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately,” Liberty University said in a statement.
Falwell Jr. agreed to take the leave of absence.
Liberty University is a private Christian university in Lynchburg, Va. Falwell Jr. became president in 2007, succeeding his late father, Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Falwell Jr. recently posted a picture on Instagram showing him with a woman who is not his wife. Both he and the women had their midriffs exposed and their pants unbuttoned.
“More vacation shots,” Falwell Jr. wrote in the caption. “Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht.”
The university president later deleted the photograph.
“I’ve apologized to everybody, and I’ve promised my kids I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out” Falwell told WLNI, a radio station.
The woman, who is pregnant, is his wife’s assistant, he added, describing the picture as “in good fun.”
“She’s a sweetheart and I should never have put it up and embarrassed her,” he said.
Falwell received harsh criticism from some quarters over the picture.
“If you’re running the largest Christian university in America maybe don’t put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht – with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical,” Meghan McCain, the daughter of late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and host on “The View,” wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) called Falwell Jr.’s behavior “appalling.”
Walker, who is an advisory board member and former Liberty instructor, called for Falwell to step down.
After Liberty announced the leave of absence, Walker said he was praying for the Falwells.
“Liberty is such an important institution to our nation, our next generation of leaders & faith. The Liberty family impacts the world every day for things that are good and righteous,” he said in a social media statement, adding: “I pray for Jerry Jr. and the Falwells, and I take solace in the Christian principle that forgiveness and redemption is available to all.”

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Rioters Clash With Police in Portland, Hurl Chunks of Concrete at Officers

Rioters threw chunks of concrete, rocks, and other projectiles at police officers in Portland late Friday, as clashes between them and officers spilled again into nearby residential streets.
Unrest in Oregon’s city started in late May and has continued virtually unabated since.
People gathered outside the Penumbra Kelly Building, which holds law enforcement offices, about 4 miles east of downtown, around 9:45 p.m. Police officers, taking a more aggressive stance under new direction from Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler, announced they would arrest people for trespassing if they didn’t leave the property.
Arrests were soon made. As officers made arrests, the crowd hurled rocks at them. The mob soon broke off concrete pieces from a nearby retaining wall, smashed them into smaller pieces, and launched them at the police. Others shined lasers at officers. Frozen or hard-boiled eggs and commercial grade fireworks were also thrown.
The mayhem at the building continued for several hours until Oregon state troopers and Portland police officers worked together to begin dispersing the crowd to the east.
During the resulting clashes, rioters alternated fleeing—at one point, entering a private home’s backyard, prompting a man living there to run out and tell them to leave—and facing off with law enforcement, using tactics they practiced in a park earlier in the day.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington on Aug. 6, 2020. Undated displayed photographs show federal officers responding to rioting at the Mark. O Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Ore. (Toni L. Sandys/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Portland Police Sgt. Brent Maxey speaks at a press conference at the Justice Center in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 6, 2020. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP, Pool)
Rioters in Portland use sophisticated tactics like formations and organize with supply lines, federal law enforcement officials told Congress this week. They’ve given no indication they’ll stop committing violence and some expressly say they have no demands, short of the abolition of the current law enforcement system.
“I don’t believe that they have any intention of stopping. And what they’re really trying to do is completely dismantle Portland as we know it,” Portland Police Sgt. Brent Maxey, an 18-year veteran of the force, told reporters in a briefing this week.
Wheeler, a Democrat who is also mayor, condemned the violence in a news conference Thursday. The rioters are committing attempted murder when they try burning buildings down with people they’ve trapped inside, he said.
Rioters have started turning to attempts to disable police vehicles. On Thursday night, they placed rebar ties in the road. Early Saturday, they placed pool noodles filled with nails.
The flurry of attacks from rioters forced police to keep their distance from them, the bureau said in a statement apologizing to homeowners for the noise.

A pool noodle with nails embedded inside. Noodles were placed in roadways to puncture the tires of law enforcement vehicles in Portland, Ore., overnight Aug. 7, 2020, police officials said. (Portland Police Bureau)

Nails in the tire of a law enforcement vehicles in Portland, Ore. (Portland Police Bureau)
The crowd eventually fizzled out by 2:30 a.m., the bureau said in an incident summary.
The police force struggled to respond to both the riot and the crime unfolding elsewhere in the city overnight. At one point, there were two separate shootings and 16 priority calls in the North Precinct.
“Other precincts are available to help but response times are delayed right now,” the bureau said.
Portland is dealing with a surge in violence, with 99 shootings taking place in July, a spike from 35 in the same month last year, police officials said this week. Fifteen homicides took place in July alone.
Wheeler said officers should be focused on responding to the record gun violence, not to arson and other crimes committed by rioters. He plans to unveil a comprehensive plan to address the rise in shootings next week.

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Trump to Require Health Insurance Companies to Cover All Pre-Existing Conditions for All Customers

President Donald Trump said that he is intending to pursue an executive order to require health insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions for all customers.
“Over the next two weeks I’ll be pursuing a major executive order requiring health insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions for all customers,” Trump said at a news conference at his golf property in Bedminster, New Jersey. “That’s a big thing. I’ve always been very in strongly in favor—we have to cover pre-existing conditions.”
“This has never been done before but it’s time that people of our country are properly represented and properly taken care of.”
The president provided no further details about his plan, including whether or how his executive order may be different from that which was required under the Afforable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Under the law passed under former President Barack Obama’s administration, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover people or charge people more just because they have pre-existing conditions. It is one of the most popular aspects of the law. However, the rule does not apply to “grandfathered” individual health insurance policies, which refer to those that were purchased on or before March 23, 2010.
The Trump administration in June asked the Supreme Court to terminate Obamacare. A day later, he criticized Obamacare in a Twitter post, saying that the “Deductible is far too high and the overall cost is ridiculous.”
The request to the Supreme Court came after two federal courts ruled that Obamacare’s individual mandate—an unpopular part of the health-care law requiring people who didn’t have health insurance to pay a fine—had violated the U.S. Constitution. The Trump administration argued that the mandate is not separate from the rest of Obamacare.
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US Federal Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

The Trump administration and Republicans have taken steps to weaken Obamacare in an effort to ultimately repeal and replace the entire law with more lower-cost options. They say the Obamacare represented government overreach and increased the cost of health care.
“Obamacare is a disaster, but we’ve run it very well,” Trump told reporters at the White House in May. “And we’ve made it barely acceptable. It was a disaster under President Obama, and it’s very bad healthcare. What we want to do is terminate it and give great healthcare. And we’ll have great healthcare, including preexisting conditions—100 percent preexisting conditions.”
Just days after Trump requested the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand the law. The Trump administration opposed the move.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.
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Trump Repeats Vow on Preexisting Conditions After Seeking End to Obamacare

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New Postmaster Overhauls Top Ranks at USPS

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Aug. 7 announced significant changes to the leadership structure at the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The overhaul is part of “an effort to operate in a more efficient and effective manner and better serve customers,” according to the press release about the new structure.
A comparison of organizational charts from Aug. 7 and June 12 shows that at least 20 officials have been moved to new roles. DeJoy also appointed a new chief technology officer, acting chief customer and marketing officer, and acting chief information officer.
“This organizational change will capture operating efficiencies by providing clarity and economies of scale that will allow us to reduce our cost base and capture new revenue,” DeJoy said in a statement.
“It is crucial that we do what is within our control to help us successfully complete our mission to serve the American people and, through the universal service obligation, bind our nation together by maintaining and operating our unique, vital and resilient infrastructure.”
The changes do not amount to a reduction in force, according to the USPS. DeJoy has also implemented a management hiring freeze.

A woman unloads a USPS truck in Norfolk, Va., on Jan. 26, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
DeJoy took over the reigns of the USPS in May. A successful businessman and a supporter of President Donald Trump, he became the first postmaster general who was not a career USPS employee.
DeJoy announced the changes as top Democrats in Congress scrutinized slowdowns in mail delivery. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized the leadership overhaul in an Aug. 6 letter to DeJoy.
“We believe these changes, made during the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, now threaten the timely delivery of mail—including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers, and absentee ballots for voters—that is essential to millions of Americans,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote.
“While it is true that the Postal Service has and continues to face financial challenges, enacting these policies as cost-cutting or efficiency measures as the COVID-19 public health emergency continues is counterproductive and unacceptable.”

A United States Postal Service (USPS) mail box stands in the Manhattan, N.Y., on Aug. 5, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Although the USPS is not directly funded by taxpayers, it enjoys a government-backed monopoly on mailbox delivery and a number of advantages unavailable to private delivery companies. The organization is nonetheless billions of dollars in debt. DeJoy told the USPS Board of Governors on Aug. 7 that the management realignment is part of a larger effort to cut costs.
“Our financial position is dire, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues,” DeJoy said. “Without dramatic change, there is no end in sight, and we face an impending liquidity crisis.”
The USPS has been thrust to the forefront of political controversy in recent weeks due to the heated debate over mail-in voting. Trump has vehemently opposed the idea, saying it would increase the risk of voter fraud. Democrats have framed the opposition to mail-in voting as an attempt to suppress voters.
Trump recently altered course and backed mail-in voting in Florida, explaining that the Republican governors there have established an efficient and reliable system.

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Former LA Angels Employee Arrested, Charged in Pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ Overdose Death

A former employee of the Los Angeles Angels was taken into custody in connection with the fentanyl overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas said on Friday.
Eric Prescott Kay, 45, a former communications director for the Angels, was charged with conspiracy to distribute a mixture containing detectable amounts of fentanyl in connection with Skaggs’s death. He was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first court appearance on Friday. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Skaggs was found dead on July 1, 2019, in his hotel room in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 27.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office in August 2019 determined that Skaggs died of an accidental overdose from a combination of drugs and alcohol. The medical examiner found that Skaggs had ethanol, fentanyl, and oxycodone in his system at the time of his death, according to a criminal complaint (pdf).

Fentanyl-laced sky blue pills known on the street as “Mexican oxy” in a file photo. (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)
The criminal complaint noted that were it not for the fentanyl, Skaggs would not have died. Investigators found in Skaggs’s hotel room a number of pills, including a single blue pill that looked like a 30-milligram oxycodone tablet, with the markings M/30. An analysis of the pill showed it had been laced with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that’s 50 times more potent than heroin.
Skaggs’s family said at the time that they were “shocked to learn” that the situation surrounding Skaggs’s death may involve an employee of the Angels.
The Angels organization issued a statement Friday upon the announcement of Kay’s arrest, saying that the organization’s management was not aware or informed about any person dealing opioids to any player, nor that Skaggs was using opioids. The Angels organization added that it will continue to work with authorities to complete their investigation.

Statement regarding the recent developments in the Tyler Skaggs investigation: pic.twitter.com/fI0b3i3pba
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 7, 2020

Kay initially denied knowing whether Skaggs used drugs, and that the last time he had seen Skaggs was at a hotel check-in on June 30, 2019.
According to the criminal complaint, text messages between Skaggs and Kay, as well as hotel key card records and other evidence, suggested that the two had met later in the evening of June 30, near midnight, presumably for Kay to deliver pills to Skaggs.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) through their investigation determined that Kay had allegedly been dealing the blue M/30 pills to Skaggs and others at the stadium where they worked.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox said in a statement that suppressing the spread of fentanyl continues to be “a priority for the Department of Justice.”
“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose—coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career—should be a wakeup call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Cox said.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim stand for a moment of silence, wearing #45 on their jersey to commemorate Tyler Skaggs, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif., on July 12, 2019. (John McCoy/Getty Images)
DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez said that the Dallas DEA mourns for the Skaggs family and all families who have had loved ones killed by a drug overdose.
“Fentanyl does not discriminate in its potential deadly consequences,” he said in a statement. “With the prevalence of fentanyl in many of the counterfeit prescription drugs sold on the streets, every pill taken could be your last … As with Mr. Kay’s arrest, we will continue to identify and investigate those who distribute these drugs to ensure they face justice.”
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Cause of Death Revealed for Former MLB Pitcher Tyler Skaggs

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Judge who released accused murderer sought to 'see through the law,' rule 'based on who person is'

A retired judge who allowed an accused rapist to go free earlier in the year over the objections of a prosecutor — with the alleged criminal now accused of killing the woman he had allegedly raped — once advocated deciding cases “based on who the person is” rather than the explicit demands of the law. 
Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Nolan Dawkins released Ibrahim Bouaichi from prison in April due to concerns voiced by Bouaichi’s lawyers that he was at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement. The release went through over the objections of a local prosecutor.
Bouaichi had been arrested on a charge of rape; police say that after his release he subsequently went on to murder the woman who had accused him of rape and testified against him in court. 
Dawkins, who retired earlier in the summer after becoming Alexandria’s first black judge in 1994, has been an icon of the Northern Virginia city for over twenty years. Upon his retirement in June, roughly two months after releasing Bouaichi from prison, the judge expressed a judicial philosophy that may have informed that release order.
“I did know that sometimes what you were seeing in court is not in fact the person,” Dawkins told News4 in June. “Sometimes we need to see through the law and make the decision based on who the person is.”
Dawkins was not reachable by phone on Saturday. In June, retiring amid community acclaim for his decades of service, the judge stressed a quasi-holistic approach to the law. “I don’t come to court as a judge,” he told the news station. “I come to court and I see people.
Bouaichi was recaptured after the alleged murder and is in grave condition after reportedly shooting himself ahead of being arrested. His lawyers did not respond to queries on Saturday. 

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Hillary Clinton blasts NYT columnist for forgetting she chose a man as her running mate in 2016

Hillary Clinton leveled a jocular broadside against New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Saturday, pointing out that the writer appeared to forget wholesale that Clinton chose a man to run as her vice president during the 2016 election. 
Writing on the 1984 vice presidential candidacy of Geraldine Ferraro ahead of Joe Biden’s announcement of a female running mate, Dowd in a Saturday column wrote that it had been “36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket.”
That claim ignored the 2016 presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton selected Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate on the Democratic ticket that year. 
Clinton herself weighed in on the historical error, writing on Twitter on Saturday morning: “Either [Tim Kaine] and I had a very vivid shared hallucination four years ago or Maureen had too much pot brownie before writing her column again.”

After correcting the error in the article itself, the newspaper issued a corrective tweet, writing: “An earlier version of this column incorrectly said it had been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket. It has been that long since a man chose a woman to run as his vice president.”
That claim was also incorrect: John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate on the 2008 Republican presidential ticket.
The Times subsequently deleted the additional error-laden tweet. 

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Violent protesters set fire to Beirut, storm government buildings

Violent demonstrations overtook large swaths of Beirut on Saturday as the Lebanese capital reeled from both a deadly explosion earlier in the week and subsequent mass protests against the government held responsible for it. 
Protesters stormed government buildings, set fire to parts of the city, and demanded the government’s resignation following the blast that killed nearly 160 and injured around 6,000. 
The Tuesday explosion was attributed to several tons of ammonium nitrate the Lebanese government had confiscated from an abandoned ship and allegedly stored improperly in the city’s port area for six years. 
A member of the Lebanese security force had reportedly been killed on Saturday, while 200 individuals had been injured during the protests. Effigies of political leaders were hung in the city, while protesters were seen engaging soldiers and throwing rocks at them.
Demonstrators were tear gassed at times, meanwhile, while activists occupied numerous government buildings including the foreign and economic ministries.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has thus far refused calls to resign, though he said on Saturday that he planned to introduce a law calling for early elections. 
The U.S. embassy in the city tweeted on Saturday that “the Lebanese people have suffered too much and deserve to have leaders who listen to them and change course to respond to popular demands for transparency and accountability.”
“We support them in their right to peaceful protest, and encourage all involved to refrain from violence,” the embassy added.

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Intel community: Iran and China want Trump to lose, Russia targeting Biden

China, Iran and Russia have each signaled their preferred presidential candidates in the 2020 election, the intelligence community revealed this week, with American intelligence raising concerns over each country’s active and potential efforts to undermine and meddle in the presidential race this fall. 
China and Iran are both indicating a preference for Trump to lose, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina revealed in a statement on Friday; Russia, meanwhile, has shown a preference for Donald Trump to prevail in November. 
China, for instance, in recent months “has grown increasingly critical of the [Trump] Administration’s COVID-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate, and actions on other issues,” Evanina said.
The country “has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China,” he wrote. Chinese leaders see Trump as “unpredictable,” Evanina noted. 
Iran has also sought to “undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections,” Evanina said, claiming that Iranian intelligence will likely utilize Internet agents to advance those goals. 
Russia, meanwhile, is “using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden,” while “some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”
Evanina in the statement said the intelligence community is “doing everything in its power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process.”
“Our election should be our own,” he continued. “Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy.”

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More than two dozen senators call for federal government to investigate Planned Parenthood

A group of senators is calling upon the Department of Justice and the U.S. Treasury to investigate abortion provider Planned Parenthood over its alleged misuse of coronavirus stimulus funds, with the politicians also requesting updates on the government’s investigations into Planned Parenthood’s purported sale of fetal tissue in violation of federal law. 
Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler spearheaded the calls for the federal investigations, posting two letters on her senatorial website both of which were signed by Loeffler and more than two dozen of her colleagues. 
One letter addressed to Brian Miller, the Treasury’s recently appointed Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, requested that the inspector “review the loans made to at least 43 Planned Parenthood affiliates” allegedly in error. 
“Specifically, we ask that you investigate how these affiliates were able to obtain PPP loans despite their ineligibility under the Small Business Administration’s … affiliation rules,” the letter reads, claiming that Planned Parenthood officials have indicated that they were aware of those ineligibilities prior to requesting the loans.
In a separate letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, Loeffler and a group of senators requested an update on the federal government’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s alleged trafficking in aborted fetal tissue.
The senators specifically asked for updates on “any investigation already underway” into both Planned Parenthood and “the biomedical companies it deals with,” updates on associated criminal referrals ordered by Congress, and a list of any Planned Parenthood affiliates that are both under investigation and that have received coronavirus stimulus loans.
“Planned Parenthood and any biomedical companies involved [in alleged lawbreaking] must be held accountable for their lucrative and illegal activities involving the trafficking and sale of fetal tissue,” the letter reads.

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Fauci: Chances of highly effective coronavirus vaccine 'not great'

Public health expert and White House Coronavirus Task Force leader Anthony Fauci said this week that it is unlikely that any coronavirus vaccine will be highly effective, echoing claims from public health officials that a vaccine of just 50% effectivity would be an acceptable outcome. 
From the start of the pandemic and through the intervening months, many experts and commentators have insisted that regular, pre-pandemic life will never return unless a vaccine is developed and deployed throughout most of the world. Scientists for months have been scrambling to develop a vaccine in a lightning-quick timeframe, with numerous trials currently underway across the planet. 
Fauci himself has repeatedly stressed the need to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine. Yet during a Brown University webinar on Friday, the doctor said the eventual vaccine’s effectiveness could be as low as 50%, something FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has signaled would be an acceptable floor. 
“I’d like it to be 75% or more,” Fauci said on Friday. “But the chances of it being 98% effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach.”
It is not clear if Fauci was suggesting that coronavirus pandemic mitigation measures would have to remain in place forever or if they might eventually be relaxed regardless of the vaccine’s effectiveness. 
The timetable for developing the COVID-19 vaccine has been extraordinarily shortened compared to standard vaccine development. International AIDS Vaccine Initiative President Mark Feinberg said in March that the “traditional vaccine timeline is 15 to 20 years,” and that health officials needed “new approaches” if they planned to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine in less time than that. 

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Report: At least 60 managers at TikTok parent company's HQ are on communist oversight committee

At least five dozen managers at the Chinese technology company ByteDance belong to the corporation’s communist oversight committee, according to an internal corporate document leaked this week.
ByteDance has been at the center of a political firestorm in recent weeks due to its ownership of the social media sharing app TikTok. Government officials have claimed that TikTok’s data-gathering capabilities represent a national security threat to the U.S. To that end, President Trump this week signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. transactions with ByteDance. 
TikTok officials in the U.S. have insisted that user data are not shared with Chinese government officials. Yet a leaked document from ByteDance’s headquarters have raised fresh concerns that Communist officials in Beijing may take a heavy hand in the company’s runnings, up to and including data mining from U.S. consumers. 
Many corporations in China feature internal Chinese Communist Party committees made up of employees who are also party members; these committees are meant to ensure fidelity to the country’s ruling one-party political ideology. 
At ByteDance’s headquarters, at least 138 employees are on the company’s communist committee; sixty of those “are classified as having a managerial role,” the Epoch Times reported on Friday.
The document obtained by the Times was only a partial list of committee members, the paper reported. Altogether, ByteDance has around 60,000 employees spread out in 230 offices worldwide. 
ByteDance was founded as a tech startup in 2012; its current valuation is estimated at around $100 billion. 
TikTok, one of the company’s best-known apps, allows users to create short, often musical videos for sharing on social media. The government of India banned the app in that country in June of this year pursuant to a border dispute with China. 

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Federal Reserve president suggests 'more restrictive lockdown' of as much as 60% of U.S. populace

An infectious disease expert and the president of a Federal Reserve bank are calling for an even more severe U.S. lockdown than the one which occurred in March and April, one in which as many as six out of every ten Americans would be under effective house arrest barring trips to the grocery store and the doctor. 
Michael Osterholm and Neel Kashkari, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, respectively, write in the New York Times that the U.S. could bring the pandemic under control here in mere “weeks” if the government can “commit to a more restrictive lockdown” for roughly a month and a half, an approach the authors claim will “crush the virus.” 
Citing strong lockdowns in European countries which were followed by reductions in infection rates, the authors argue that U.S. governors allowed their states to re-open too quickly and allowed the virus to begin spreading unchecked again. 
U.S. governments, they argue, “should mandate sheltering in place for everyone but the truly essential workers.” The authors claim via an Economic Policy Institute report that a mere 39 percent of U.S. workers are considered “essential,” suggesting that, under their desired policy, 60% of the U.S. population might be put under severe lockdown orders for at least a month and a half.
“The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country,” they write. “For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential. To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible.”

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Trump to sign executive order on coronavirus relief funds

President Trump on Saturday will reportedly sign executive orders directing some federal funds to go toward coronavirus economic relief efforts, a measure the president is set to take as negotiations over a new stimulus package have stalled between Congress and the White House. 
Republicans and Democrats have been struggling to reach an agreement on a new round of coronavirus stimulus, with efforts having hit a roadblock late this week as both sides attempted to carve out their own respective policy desires in the latest package. 
Among the expected provisions of Trump’s orders are a payroll tax deferment, an extension of enhanced federal unemployment benefits, and student loan assistance. 

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Federal court ends 70-year-old 'Paramount Decrees' governing movie studio trade practices

A federal court on Friday struck down a collection of federal rules that for over seventy years has imposed trade restrictions on movie studios, clearing the way for film distribution arrangements that haven’t existed since Abbot and Costello were headlining movie marquees. 
The “Paramount Decrees,” as they have been known since 1948, dictated that movie studios could no longer both produce films and distribute them in studio-owned film houses. Studios were also forbidden from the practice of “block booking,” or forcing theaters to accept multiple films under one license; also outlawed were the practices of setting minimum prices on ticket sales, issuing single licenses for all the films in a circuit, and issuing single licenses for large geographic areas.
The Department of Justice announced in November its intent to terminate the decrees, claiming they were outdated and not reflective of the film landscape of the modern economy. U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in a ruling on Friday decided in favor of the government, stating it “unlikely that any collective attempt by [film studios] to once again monopolize the theater market would or could reoccur.”
In a press release, the Department of Justice praised the court’s decision, with Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim declaring that “the movie industry and how Americans enjoy their movies have changed leaps and bounds” since the decrees were passed.
“Without these restraints on the market, American ingenuity is again free to experiment with different business models that can benefit consumers,” Delrahim said. 
The abolition of the decrees come with a two-year sunset provision on the bans of block booking and circuit dealing. 

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Following US Ban on WeChat, TikTok, Beijing Reacts Angrily While Chinese Users Ponder Uncertainty

President Donald Trump on Aug. 6 ordered a stop to all U.S. transactions with Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent, effectively banning their popular developed apps TikTok and WeChat from the country. The ban will take effect in 45 days.
The Chinese regime responded angrily the following day, while Chinese users in the United States pondered what would happen to their transactions and communications with mainland China.
The Regime
Spokesman for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Wang Wenbin said at an Aug. 7 press conference that Trump’s decision was “using state power to suppress non-U.S. companies unreasonably. It’s obviously bullying.” He repeated the statement twice.
Wang did not mention that the Chinese regime bans international websites, apps, and internet platforms from operating within its borders, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, and Line. He also did not speak about Chinese authorities’ exclusion of foreign companies from their strategically important sectors, such as oil and gas, banking, and railways.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s mouthpiece People’s Daily published a commentary on Aug. 7, stating that Trump wanted to “kill off” TikTok with his intent of having an American company purchase its parent company, ByteDance.
Nearly all major Chinese media outlets, including the private-run ones, reposted the commentary.
Trump has given TikTok a Sept. 15 deadline to find an American buyer, or else face a complete ban. But he has never expressed intent to compel its Chinese owner to do so.

In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed in the App Store on an Apple iPhone in Washington, D.C., on August 7, 2020. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong speculated whether Beijing would retaliate by not allowing Apple to supply WeChat on its App Store in mainland China. They quoted economists and estimated that iPhone sales would drop dramatically as a result—as many Chinese in the mainland rely on WeChat. In addition to being a messaging app, it also has e-wallet and banking features. The app is commonly used to make financial transactions in China.
China expert Gordon Chang noted that though the Trump administration has taken quickening actions to address threats posed by the Chinese regime in recent weeks, Beijing’s response has been muted.
“China has screamed and yelled, but essentially has not retaliated,” Chang told NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times.
“Maybe they’re waiting for the August 15 meeting to talk about the phase one trade deal before they actually act. But right now, Beijing has been unusually quiet,” said Chang, who is also the author of “The Coming Collapse of China.” The two sides were scheduled to meet this month to discuss progress on fulfilling obligations in the trade deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese People
Because the Chinese regime bans nearly all international social media and communications platforms, overseas Chinese can only use WeChat and other Chinese-developed apps to communicate with their loved ones back home.
Overseas users also heavily use the app’s online banking function to transfer money.
Chinese media reported on Aug. 7 that overseas Chinese were worried that their WeChat accounts might be closed soon, and began arranging their friends or relatives in China to transfer cash into their WeChat accounts.
It’s unclear to what extent the executive orders, which go into effect in 45 days, would impact WeChat’s business and whether Tencent’s large fleet of investments in the United States and other parts of the world would come as collateral.
In the mainland, some WeChat users have started to share backup contacts for a limited number of apps that are still available in China. Others plan to do what they do at home to get around the “Great Firewall,” as the blockade of foreign apps and websites in China is known, by using virtual private networks (VPN) that mask a user’s identity on a public network.
Tencent, a company headquartered in southern Shenzhen city, has a total of 1,004 apps under its ownership—most of them are mobile games.
According to Sensor Tower, Tencent’s mobile app revenue was $447 million in July 2020, including $427 million for iOS apps and $21 million for Android apps.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Federal Judge Dismisses House GOP Lawsuit Seeking to Block Proxy Voting During Pandemic

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by House Republicans seeking to overturn a system of voting that allows members to vote remotely by proxy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court of D.C. ruled on Thursday that it could not intervene in the matter because of Congress’s immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. The clause states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House” members of Congress “shall not be questioned in any other place.”
The purpose of the clause is to protect the independence of the legislative branch by preventing intrusions by the executive or judicial branches. It also bars judicial or executive processes that may constitute a “distraction” or “disruption” to a member’s representative or legislative role.
In May, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), other Republican members, and constituents sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in May, alleging the move to allow proxy voting was unconstitutional.
Pelosi announced in May that the House would begin a 45-day period of “remote proceedings,” which would include proxy voting on the House floor, allowing members who are unable to be physically present at Capitol Hill due to the CCP virus pandemic to designate another lawmaker as their “proxy” and cast votes on their behalf.
McCarthy said the new rules are unconstitutional because the Constitution requires a “quorum,” of lawmakers to be physically present in order to conduct business.
It also argues that changes to how the House votes were not enacted amid the Yellow Fever of 1793, the Civil War, the burning of the Capitol during the War of 1812, the Spanish Flu of 1918, or the 9/11 terror attack, noting that “congress has never flinched from its constitutional duty to assemble at the nation’s capital and conduct the people’s business.”
Contreras, an Obama appointee, did not reach the point of addressing the merits of the case due to the constitutional barrier and added that “the House unquestionably has the authority, under the Constitution, to ‘determine the Rules of its Proceedings.’”
“The Court can conceive of few other actions, besides actually debating, speaking, or voting, that could more accurately be described as ‘legislative’ than the regulation of how votes may be cast,” Contreras said (pdf).
Pelosi welcomed the news in a statement on Thursday. “Remote voting by proxy is fully consistent with the Constitution and more than a century of legal precedent, including Supreme Court cases, that make clear that the House can determine its own rules,” she said. “The nation is in the middle of a dangerous pandemic and the House of Representatives must continue to work.”
McCarthy indicated in a statement on Friday that he intends to appeal the decision.
“Speaker Pelosi’s proxy voting scheme dilutes the voting power of Members of Congress in violation of the Constitution. It dilutes the representation of constituents across America, and purports to allow a Member of Congress to give his or her vote to another member,” he wrote.
“We have already seen House Democrats exploit this system and neglect their official duties. One member wrote that he was ‘physically unable to attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency, and I hereby grant the authority to cast my vote by proxy…’ only to drive several hours away from his district to attend a space launch.”
“While Congress does write its own procedural rules—and we should—we cannot write rules that violate the Constitution. House Republicans look forward to appealing this decision.”
Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.

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Colorado Prison Escapee Caught After Nearly 50 Years on Run

DENVER—A man who escaped from a Colorado prison in 1974 was found living under an alias in a small town in northern New Mexico after the Denver police officer he shot decades ago helped track him down, authorities said.
Luis Archuleta, 77, also known as Larry Pusateri, was arrested Wednesday in Espanola, New Mexico, where he had been living under the name Ramon Montoya for about 40 years, the FBI said in a statement.
Archuleta was accused in 1971 of shooting Denver police officer Daril Cinquanta, who had pulled over Archuleta to check his ID, KMGH-TV reported.
When Cinquanta tried to check for weapons, the two fought and Cinquanta was shot in the stomach, KMGH-TV said.
A jury in 1973 convicted Archuleta of assault with a deadly weapon.
Cinquanta, who since retired and started his own private investigation company, never stopped making phone calls and knocking on doors in hopes of tracking down Archuleta, KUSA-TV reported.
His search paid off when a tipster called.
“I get a phone call from an individual and this person says, ‘I’ve thought about it, and I’m gonna tell you where the guy is who shot you,’ and of course I was skeptical,” Cinquanta said. “Forty-six years later, and out of the clear blue I get a phone call. Well, this person gives me his address and his alias … and other facts that meant nothing at the time.”
A federal court in Colorado issued a new arrest warrant involving the prison escape and Archuleta was arrested in the small town about 20 miles north of Santa Fe.
He is being represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender, which did not immediately respond Friday to a phone message seeking comment on Archuleta’s behalf
Michael Schneider, the FBI Special Agent in Denver, said the “arrest should send a clear signal to violent offenders everywhere: The FBI will find you, no matter how long it takes or how far you run, and we will bring you to justice.”
Cinquanta hopes to visit Archuleta when he is back in custody in Colorado.
“I would love to sit down and talk to him,” Cinquanta said. “He may or may not talk to me. Who knows?”

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Delta Wants at Least 3,000 Flight Attendants to Take Unpaid Leave

Delta Air Lines Inc will need at least 3,000 of its roughly 20,000 flight attendants to take unpaid leave of four to 12 months, or consider other options, to avoid involuntary furloughs, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
Airlines are suffering their worst crisis in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated air travel demand and crushed the U.S. economy in the second quarter.
The fallout has put tens of thousands of airline jobs at risk as carriers warn an industry recovery could take years.
Atlanta-based Delta last month reported a 91 percent plunge in second-quarter revenue and a $3.9 billion adjusted pre-tax loss.
Delta would need at least 3,000 of its roughly 20,000 flight attendants to take unpaid leave of up to 12 months, among other options outlined in a memo reported earlier by CNBC.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed the contents of the memo to Reuters. A representative for Delta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Delta told pilots last month it would avoid furloughs if they agreed to reduced guaranteed minimum pay.
More than 17,000 workers at Delta, which had more than 91,000 employees in 2019, are taking voluntary departure packages, including more than 1,700 of 7,900 pilots, Reuters reported last month.
By Ankit Ajmera and Eric M. Johnson

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Pentagon: Trump and Esper ‘Consistent’ on Beirut Explosion

The Pentagon has dismissed the apparent difference between President Donald Trump and his defense secretary over the cause of the Beirut explosion.
“The President and Secretary have both been consistent that we’ve reached no definitive cause for the explosion and that information is still coming, and we’re going to continue to assess it,” Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the top Pentagon spokesperson, told reporters. 
On Tuesday, the day of the explosion, Trump characterized the explosion in the port in Beirut as a “terrible attack,” saying that some generals thought it could have been caused by a bomb of some kind.
The following day, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that they were still getting information and that “most believe it was an accident,” adding,” I have nothing further to report on that.”
That difference between Trump and Esper was picked up in many reports, saying that Esper had contradicted the president.
Lebanese officials have stated that the explosion—which has killed over 150 people according to the latest figures and heard over 100 miles away in Cyprus—was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse. The cause of the fire that initiated the blast is currently being investigated.

Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 4, 2020. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

Smoke rises from a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 4, 2020. (Hassan Ammar/AP Photo)
“The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act,” Lebanon President Michel Aoun said.
The investigation will try to establish three things. “First, how the explosive material entered and was stored … second, whether the explosion was a result of negligence or an accident … and third, the possibility that there was external interference.”
Responding to a question on whether generals had given Trump inaccurate information, Hoffman said that the situation was “fast-evolving” and that different information had come to light on the two days.
“The investigation into the explosion is ongoing, ” he said. “We’re going to defer to and give the Lebanese government space to complete their investigation and reach their conclusions. I’m not going to offer any conclusions from the U.S. government or from the intel community today. That’s not my role, so we’re going to work with them.”
In his remarks to reporters on the day of the attack, Trump said, “I’ve met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was not a … some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event.”
“They would know better than I would,” he added. “But they seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”

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Appeals Court Rules House Can Sue to Enforce Don McGahn Subpoena for Testimony

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a congressional subpoena seeking former White House counsel Don McGahn’s testimony before Congress, ruling that the House has the right to bring suits to enforce its subpoenas.
Judges of the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7–2 to overturn a divided panel opinion from February that found that House lacked standing to seek judicial enforcement of the McGahn subpoena.
“The Committee, acting on behalf of the full House of Representatives, has shown that it suffers a concrete and particularized injury when denied the opportunity to obtain information necessary to the legislative, oversight, and impeachment functions of the House, and that its injury would be redressed by the order it seeks from the court. The separation of powers and historical practice objections presented here require no different result,” Judge Judith Rogers wrote in the majority opinion (pdf).
The ruling is a victory for Congress, who has been underscoring the importance of being able to enforce its subpoenas in order to carry out its legislative and oversight responsibilities. But the court also allowed McGahn to continue challenging the subpoena on other grounds. This effectively means McGahn would not have to testify while his case plays out in court.
The Justice Department (DOJ), who is representing McGahn in the case, said in a statement to The Epoch Times that they intend to “vigorously” challenge the subpoena on those other grounds.
“While we strongly disagree with the standing ruling in McGahn, the en banc court properly recognized that we have additional threshold grounds for dismissal of both cases, and we intend to vigorously press those arguments before the panels hearing those cases,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.
McGahn, who was viewed as a key witness in then-special counsel’s Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, was subpoenaed by the committee in April 2019 to provide documents and appear before lawmakers as part of the investigation into alleged obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump—something that Mueller failed to establish in his investigation. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
House Democrats have launched a slew of investigations, which included the subpoena of McGahn, in an effort to find information that could lead to the impeachment of the president.
The White House blocked his appearance in May, asserting executive privilege over the documents. This prompted House Democrats to subsequently sue McGahn in August 2019 in an attempt to enforce the subpoena.
In November that year, a district court judge ruled that McGahn must testify before the House, saying that executive branch officials are “not absolutely immune” from the compulsory congressional process, even if the president expressly directs the official’s non-compliance. That judge clarified that the injunction required McGahn to only appear before the committee, and not necessarily answer questions on the basis of recognized privileges. This prompted the Justice Department (DOJ) to appeal the decision to the circuit court.
The appeals court ruled 2-1 on Feb. 28 that McGahn was not required to testify, agreeing with the DOJ’s argument that the Constitution bars federal courts from resolving disputes between the legislative and executive branches. In March, the appeals court agreed to rehear the case before the full panel of the court and vacate the February ruling.
In the majority opinion, Rogers recognized the importance of Congress’s subpoena power, saying that the possession of relevant information is a necessary precondition for lawmakers to effectively discharge their duty.
“The power of each House of Congress to compel witnesses to appear before it to testify and to produce documentary evidence has a pedigree predating the Founding and has long been employed in Congress’s discharge of its primary constitutional responsibilities: legislating, conducting oversight of the federal government, and, when necessary, checking the President through the power of impeachment,” Rogers wrote.
She found that “McGahn’s disregard of the subpoena” had “deprived the committee of specific information sought in the exercise of its constitutional responsibilities.”
Rogers also rejected the DOJ’s argument that the federal court should not referee the dispute between Congress and the Trump administration.
“McGahn maintains that in exercising jurisdiction over the present lawsuit and resolving whether he is required to testify, the court takes sides in an interbranch dispute, aggrandizes Congress at the expense of the Executive, or otherwise disrupts the balance of powers between the Branches,” she wrote. “To the contrary, the judiciary, in exercising jurisdiction over the present lawsuit, does not arrogate any new power to itself at the expense of either of the other branches but rather plays its appropriate constitutional role.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the ruling a “profound victory for the rule of law and our constitutional system of government.”
“The court rejected President Trump’s sweeping claim that Committees of the House have no standing before the courts to seek redress of the institutional injury caused when lawfully issued subpoenas are ignored. Today’s decision confirms the Judiciary’s ability to resolve these disputes,” Nadler wrote in a statement.
All seven judges in the majority were appointed by Democratic presidents, meanwhile, Judges Gregory G. Katsas and Neomi Rao, both appointed by Trump, did not participate in the case.
Judges Karen Henderson and Thomas B. Griffith, both appointed by former President George H. W. Bush, dissented in the case. Both judges argued in separate opinions that federal courts should not referee in disputes between Congress and the executive branch due to the issue of separation of powers.
“The court severs the standing analysis from its separation-of-powers roots and treats a direct dispute between the Legislative and Executive Branches as if it were any old case,” Griffith wrote in his dissent. “The result is an anemic Article III jurisprudence that flouts a long line of Supreme Court precedent, ignores the basic structure of the Constitution, and resuscitates long-discredited case law from this circuit.”
“The majority’s ruling will supplant negotiation with litigation, making it harder for Congress to secure the information it needs. And the Committee likely won’t even get what it wants in this case.”
He added that because the en banc court only ruled on a narrow issue of whether Congress had the right to sue, the other issues are left to be resolved by lower courts.
“Because the majority declines to decide whether the Committee has a cause of action and whether it should prevail on the merits, the chances that the Committee hears McGahn’s testimony anytime soon are vanishingly slim,” he wrote.

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Murder Charges Filed Against Man in Fatal Shooting Inside Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Zone

Homicide detectives are looking for an 18-year-old after prosecutors charged him with murder in the fatal shooting of another teenager inside the infamous “CHOP” zone in Seattle.
Marcel Long was charged on Wednesday with murder in the first degree, according to court documents obtained by The Epoch Times. Prosecutors said he planned the killing of Lorenzo Anderson in the lawless Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, later know as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, in late June.
The shooting was one of several that finally forced city officials to clear the zone, after weeks of tolerating its existence. Anderson’s mother blames Seattle officials for her son’s death and filed a lawsuit against the city last month.
Detectives identified Long through video footage captured on the scene. Video showed him approaching Anderson and pulling out a handgun. When Anderson fled, the defendant chased him.
A group pulled Long aside but he broke free and continued to race after Anderson before ultimately extending his hand with the gun and firing multiple shots.
Anderson died from his wounds.

TJ Jenkins and Derel Jenkins pay their respects at a memorial near the site of where their cousin, Lorenzo Anderson, was shot dead, in the so-called CHOP area in Seattle, Wash., on June 20, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
Long was identified within a day of the shooting. Detectives received information that he immediately fled Washington state. All efforts to find him have been unsuccessful.
“The defendant’s willingness to fire his weapon around crowds of people, in his effort to kill Lorenzo, demonstrates the severe danger to the community and the risk of harm to others. His immediate flight also demonstrates his desire to avoid being held accountable for this crime,” Erin Ehlert, senior deputy prosecuting attorney for the King County Prosecutor, said in a court filing.
The state is requesting bail be set at $2 million.
It wasn’t immediately clear why it took so long for Long to be charged.
A Seattle Police Department detective said in a court filing that police received reports of a shooting within CHOP around 2:20 a.m. on June 20 and responded 15 minutes later “after gathering sufficient resources.”
When officers entered the zone, they were confronted by an aggressive and volatile crowd who surrounded the officers and shouted at them to leave.
Security at Harborview Medical Center reported around 2:43 a.m. that a gunshot wound victim had just been “dropped off.”

Family members release balloons during a memorial and rally for peace in memory of Lorenzo Anderson, who was shot dead in the so-called CHOP area, in Seattle, Wash., on July 2, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
Police officers arrived at the center soon after and located the victim. Medical personnel told them he was pronounced dead at 2:53 a.m.
“In a typical investigation of homicidal violence in Seattle, that is not within the confines of the CHOP/CHAZ, Seattle Police would quickly establish a perimeter around the crime scene and collect evidence and photo-document the scene. In this case, because Seattle Police had been excluded from this location, the scene was not contained for their investigation and crime scene investigators did not collect evidence, map out the location, take photos and videos, or talk to individuals who often remain near crime scenes to talk with police,” the detective wrote.
However, police received tips from a number of citizens. For instance, one man, who said he was second-in-command for CHOP’s volunteer security force, collected shell casings and bullet fragments and took photographs of blood stains on the pavement. Some of the callers identified the gunman as a black male who goes by the name of “Celly Cell” and was related to Marleco Green.
Using phone records and other information, detectives found Marcel Long is also known as Marcel Green and “Celly Cell.”
According to one witness, the shooting was the result of a long-running dispute, which began approximately a year ago when Long and the victim got into a fight which was reportedly recorded and posted on YouTube.
Police are asking anyone with information about Long’s whereabouts to call their violent crimes tipline at 206-233-5000.
Detectives are still working on identifying the shooters in another shooting that took place in CHOP on June 20.
Long is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 19.

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US Appeals Court Denies Bid to Resurrect Bundy Standoff Case

LAS VEGAS—A U.S. appeals court refused Thursday to resurrect the criminal case against states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy, family members, and others stemming from a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents trying to round up Bundy cattle near the family ranch in Nevada.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco denied prosecutors’ efforts to overturn U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s decision to stop a months-long trial in January 2018 for “flagrant” prosecutorial misconduct and her dismissal of the criminal indictment so it could not be re-filed.
“The judgment is affirmed,” Judge Jay Bybee wrote for the three-judge panel that heard oral arguments May 29. The judges found Navarro properly identified violations of “recognized statutory or constitutional” rights, and she had the authority to punish the government “to deter future illegal conduct.”

Ryan Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, walks to a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Jan. 7, 2016. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)
Bundy, his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy, and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne had faced life in prison. But they were set free after nearly two years of detention ahead of trial on charges including conspiracy and assaulting federal officers.
Their arrests, with a total of 19 co-defendants in the Nevada case, came in early 2016 after the Bundy brothers and Payne took part in a 41-day anti-government protest occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
The Nevada case stemmed from a years-long dispute between Bundy and the federal Bureau of Land Management over years of unpaid grazing fees. It grew to involve self-described personal militia members from 11 other states who answered a Bundy family plea for help in March 2014. It became a symbol for advocates of states’ rights, anti-federal policies, and the sovereign citizen movement.
“They still say I’m trespassing,” Bundy, 74, said Thursday. He maintains the federal government has no authority and U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over state lands. He acknowledged he continues to refuse to pay fees for his cows grazing in the scrub desert of what is now Gold Butte National Monument.
“These feds came in here and overreached on my land and my ranch,” he said. “We’re willing to go through what we’ve had to to defend our rights and the constitution and freedom. I have no contract with the federal government.”
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich in Las Vegas said he respected the decision; noted the appeals court called it “a difficult and trying case;” and pointed to a footnote in which the appeals court judges said “misjudgments” by prosecutors did not rise to professional misconduct.
The judges said they found “a serious constitutional violation based on choices made by the government.”

Ammon Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, arrives for a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Jan. 6, 2016. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)
Ammon Bundy’s attorney, Daniel Hill, dubbed the ruling “the Republic in action.”
“We have courts so that someone can tell the government when it’s done wrong. Judge Navarro’s order dismissing the case was righteous, and the 9th Circuit agreed,” Hill said.
Navarro found “deliberate attempts” by the FBI and prosecutors “to mislead and distort the truth.” She blamed FBI agents for “reckless disregard” of requirements to turn over evidence relating to government snipers and cameras that monitored the Bundy homestead.
The appeals court said pre-standoff “threat assessment” reports prepared by government agents should have been turned over from the FBI to federal prosecutors to defense attorneys.
“These documents could have helped bolster the defense’s claim that the government had engaged in an overmilitarized impound operation that the Bundys claim fueled their fears of being surrounded by snipers,” the court said.
“Someone in the government made a conscious choice to withhold these documents. It may not have been a malicious choice, but it also was not a matter of simple oversight.”
Cliven Bundy’s attorney, conservative activist Larry Klayman, said evidence showed government agents “threatened the Bundys’ lives, killed their cattle, assaulted family members and perpetrated tyrannical executive power over them.”
Prosecutors failed to gain full convictions in two earlier trials against six other defendants who acknowledged carrying assault-style weapons during the April 2014 confrontation outside Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
None was found guilty of a key conspiracy charge.
Navarro separately dismissed charges against four remaining co-defendants who had been awaiting trial later in 2018.
By Ken Ritter

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Mississippi Meat Packing Managers Indicted in Illegal Worker Case

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department has unsealed indictments on managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel in several Mississippi meat processing plants that are accused of employing illegal alien workers.
In August 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents simultaneously busted five plants in six central Mississippi cities, in a sweep that grabbed 680 illegal workers, including 18 juveniles.
According to ICE, worksite investigations often involve egregious violations by employers such as human smuggling, document fraud, money laundering, or worker exploitation, such as using threats or coercion, and substandard wages or working conditions.
Two of the four individuals charged worked at A&B Inc. in Pelahatchie, Mississippi.
Salvador Delgado-Nieves, 57, and Iris Villalon, 44, were both indicted for harboring illegal aliens and making false statements to law enforcement officials, according to the DOJ.
Delgado-Nieves was additionally charged for assisting illegal aliens in falsely representing themselves to be U.S. citizens and assisting illegal aliens in obtaining false Social Security cards.
He faces up to 74 years in federal prison and $2.5 million in fines.
Villalon was also charged for causing false employer quarterly wage reports to be filed with fraudulent Social Security information.
She faces up to 20 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
The other two indictments refer to Carolyn Johnson and Aubrey “Bart” Willis, who both worked at Pearl River Foods LLC in Carthage, Mississippi.
Johnson, 50, a human resources manager, was indicted on six felony counts of harboring an illegal alien as well as one count of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft, according to the DOJ.
Willis, 39, the manager, was indicted on five counts of harboring an illegal alien.
If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum of up to 84 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines, while Willis faces a maximum of up to 50 years and $1.25 million in fines.
The DOJ said investigations of federal crimes continue.
Of the 680 illegal aliens detained during the operation, 119 have been prosecuted for crimes including stealing the identities of American citizens, falsifying immigration documents, fraudulently claiming to be U.S. citizens, and illegal re-entering the country after having been deported, the DOJ stated.
ICE officials pledged in 2017 that the agency was aiming to quadruple its worksite enforcement and that illegal workers should be arrested during worksite operations.
Illegal alien workers were largely off-limits during the Obama era, when arrests plummeted from more than 1,600 individuals in fiscal year 2009 to 106 in fiscal 2016.
ICE increased its worksite criminal arrests by 460 percent from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2018, while administrative arrests increased by 757 percent.
Data obtained from the Social Security Administration revealed 39 million instances in which names and Social Security numbers on W-2 forms didn’t match corresponding Social Security records, according to a 2018 report by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).
The IRLI points to illegal immigrants as the main culprits.
The organization said the cases occurred between 2012 and 2016, after then-President Barack Obama stopped the practice of sending “no match” letters to employers, in cases where the name and number don’t match up on W-2 forms. Obama stopped the no-match letters eight days after he implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty in 2012.

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Milwaukee Police Chief Demoted Over Use of Tear Gas, Refusal to Fire Officer

Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission demoted the city’s police chief on Wednesday night in a decision Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called “not good government.”
Commissioners unanimously voted to demote Alfonso Morales to the rank of captain, his rank before becoming chief.
They also voted to make Michael Brunson, assistant chief of police, the acting police chief.
Morales was listening virtually to the hearing, and while he did not comment at the hearing his lawyer, Frank Gimbel, said in a statement later to Fox 6 that Morales will be consulting with him on possible legal actions. “In the meantime, he will cooperate with the newly named Acting Chief for the transition to serve the interest of the people of Milwaukee,” he said.
Commissioners said Morales didn’t comply with directives they issued.
“Except for maybe one of them, they were all things you said that you would do in your first 100 days and beyond,” Commissioner Ann Wilson told the chief.
They said his conduct wasn’t proper.
“His conduct is unbecoming filled with ethical lapses and flawed decision,” said Commissioner Ray Robakowski.
Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, a Democrat who represents part of Milwaukee, supported the removal of Morales.
“Whether it is on a 10 [percent] cut to the MPD budget or on meeting with the protesters advocating for police reform and the Black Lives Matter movement, he simply refuses to budge,” she said in a statement earlier Thursday. Zamarripa also supported replacing DeVougas.
Commissioners said Morales delayed or ignored requests, including requests for information on 911 call wait times and cooperation with oversight of multiple investigations. They were also upset that officers used tear gas and other crowd control munitions to disperse protesters in May and June—the protests at times devolved into rioting—and that Morales refused an order to fire an officer involved with the arrest of Sterling Brown, a professional basketball player, in 2018.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett during a press conference in Milwaukee, Wis., on Feb. 27, 2020. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)
The commission banned the police department from using tear gas in July, which prompted over 100 police agencies to pull out of agreements to guard the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
The directives were vetted through the city attorney’s office and commissioners felt they were within the statutory realms of their authority, DeVougas told reporters earlier Thursday.
The Milwaukee Police Department insisted it followed each directive and accused the commission of distorting its actions in recent years: “The manner in which business is being conducted at the FPC causes alarm; therefore, the Milwaukee Police Department is providing an Executive Overview addressing the directives issued.”
The overview was released to the public August 5.
Following the demotion, Barrett, a Democrat, said in a video statement that he was angry with what transpired. “The discussion surrounding this decision tonight was completely lacking in transparency,” he said.
The mayor pledged to work with Brunson, who issued a statement saying he looks forward to serving the residents of the city.
The attorney recently told reporters that the commission was planning to terminate Morales, citing a conversation a high-level police official supposedly had with one or more commissioners. That official was told he may be considered a candidate for the next police chief, Gimbel alleged.

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Black Lives Matter Protesters Face Potential Life Sentence for Charges in Utah

Black Lives Matter demonstrators could face potentially life imprisonment if they are convicted of vandalizing District Attorney Sim Gill’s office in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Madalena Rose McNeil, 28; Marvin Oliveros, 39; and Richard Lovell Davis, 31, were charged Tuesday with felony criminal mischief and rioting, which is a third-degree felony, according to officials, as reported by KSL.
The criminal mischief charge, a first-degree felony, carries a gang attribute. It makes each charge punishable with a sentence of at least five years and up to life in prison, the report noted, citing Utah’s criminal code.
The three were involved in demonstrations following the death of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a statement that she has no jurisdiction over the state’s criminal justice system or laws.
“If a crime is committed, there should be a consequence, but that consequence needs to be proportioned to the crime itself,” she wrote in a Twitter post. “And in this case where we’re seeing the potential for an individual to spend a lifetime in prison for buying paint, that is too extreme. I don’t agree with the extent and the potential of these charges and I hope that the criminal justice system won’t take it that far.”
Police in Salt Lake City said that a group of demonstrators “ultimately broke five windows” at the district attorney’s office “and painted the roadway and building with red paint causing damage estimated to be between $100,000 and $200,000,” according to a news release.
But Gill defended the elevated charges and downplayed the possibility they will receive life sentences. “I don’t think anyone is going to be going to prison on this,” Gill told The Associated Press this week.

Press Release: Recap of SLCPD actions during yesterday’s protesthttps://t.co/7Idzou0euy pic.twitter.com/9y2lhuWKGP
— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) July 10, 2020

AP noted that criminal cases often end with plea deals to lesser charges.
“There’s some people who want to engage in protest, but they want to be absolved of any behavior,” Gill, a Democrat, told  AP. “This is not about protest, this is about people who are engaging in criminal conduct.”
More than 30 people have been charged with various crimes in Salt Lake County amid a U.S.-wide wave of protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“We have to have some agreement of what constitutes protected First Amendment speech,” Gill told the news agency. “When you cross that threshold, should you be held accountable or not?”

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Power Restored in Manhattan After Outage Affects Thousands

Electricity provider Con Edison said that power was restored to parts of New York’s Manhattan area after an outage early Friday left thousands without electricity and caused disruptions to the city’s subway system.
The power outage had knocked out not only lights but also cellphone services, according to CNBC.
“We are investigating a problem on our transmission system that caused three networks in Manhattan to lose their electric supply at about 5:13 this morning,” Con Edison said in a tweet.
Con Edison’s website at one point showed the outage, which began just after 5 am local time, affected more than 40,000 customers.
The power loss disrupted the signal system and station lighting on some subway lines and disruptions continued to impact some locations even after power was restored, the city’s subway operator said on Twitter.
By Aishwarya Nair and Shubham Kalia

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US Economy Adds 1.8 Million Jobs and Unemployment Falls to 10.2 Percent

The U.S. economy added 1.763 million jobs in July, bringing the unemployment rate down to 10.2 percent and reflecting the continued resumption of economic activity after COVID-19 shutdowns.
The Department of Labor said in its closely-watched “nonfarm payrolls” report released Friday that the vast majority of the job gains occurred in the services sector, which accounted for 1.72 million, while manufacturing added just 26,000 jobs. Economists polled by data provider FactSet had predicted the economy would add 1.6 million jobs.
While a better-than-expected number, July’s job gains fell far short of June’s 4.8 million increase and May’s 2.7 million gain, and indicates that only around 40 percent of the jobs lost due to pandemic-driven shutdowns have come back. It also reflects a slowing dynamic in the labor market recovery last month amid rising cases of COVID-19 infections in parts of the country.
“The steam has gone out of the engine and the economy is beginning to slow,” said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “The loss of momentum will continue and my concern is that the combination of the virus resurgence and lack of action by Congress could really push employment into negative territory.”
The Labor Department report showed that the sectors that saw the largest gains were leisure and hospitality, followed by retail trade, government, professional and business services, and education and health care.

Employment change by industry, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released on Aug. 7, 2020. (BLS)
Other labor market data released this week showed the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits fell last week to 1.2 million from around 1.4 million a week earlier. While bucking an earlier growth trend in jobless claims, the number of new weekly unemployment claims has come in at over 1 million for the 20th straight week, suggesting the labor market recovery is losing steam.
A report on Thursday from global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed job cuts announced by U.S. employers surged 54 percent to 262,649 in July compared to the previous month. Hiring announcements totaled 246,507 last month, almost matching the layoffs.
“The downturn is far from over, especially as COVID cases rise around the country,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Consumers are buying fewer goods and services, businesses are closing, and bankruptcies are rising.”
Many economists have said the tens of millions of unemployed workers underscores the need for another aid package. The White House and Congress are working on the next wave of relief, with negotiations seeking to strike a balance between a sweeping $3.5 trillion package proposed by Democrats and a $1 trillion cap sought by Republicans.

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Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening to Burn Down Church After Pastor Takes Part in Floyd Protest

A North Carolina man this week pleaded guilty to threatening to burn down a church that has a predominantly African American congregation.
John Bareswill, 63, admitted to calling a church in Virginia Beach and threatening to burn it down while using a racial slur.
According to an affidavit, a woman at New Hope Baptist Church answered the phone and put it on speaker. The man said words to the effect of “You [n-word] need to shut the [expletive] up” and “burning the church.”
The number was traced to Bareswill, who consented to having his phone’s contents reviewed by investigators.
The phone contained searches for “Who said all whites are racist,” “Black Lives Matter protest held in Virginia,” and “Who organized the protests from mount trashmore to town center.”
A pastor of the church had participated in a rally and prayer vigil at Mount Trashmore Park several days prior to call for justice for George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
The pastor didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bareswill also searched for “why are [n-word] protesting and looting” and “kkk stickers.”
The defendant initially said he didn’t call any religious institutions and said he was asleep when the call was placed on June 7. Investigators found he placed a call to another church but the call was not answered.
According to a plea agreement, Bareswill agreed to plead guilty to one count of threat to kill, injure, or intimidate, and threat to unlawfully damage or destroy a building by means of fire.
Bareswill faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a supervised release term of up to three years.
He was satisfied with his attorney’s assistance, according to the agreement.
Bareswill’s lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 12.

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Riot Takes Place in Portland Hours After Mayor Says Rioters Are Attempting Murder

Rioters in Portland on Thursday tried setting a police precinct on fire for the second consecutive night, just hours after Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler accused them of attempted murder.
Wheeler, a Democrat, held a press conference and gave his most forceful condemnation of the nightly violence, which has continued nearly nonstop since late May.
“When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people that you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Wheeler said.
Rioters blocked the primary entrance and exit to the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct on Wednesday night and tried setting the building on fire.
Citing a briefing he received from police and fire officials, Wheeler said people could have died.
“I believe that city staff could have died last night. I cannot and I will not tolerate that. This is not peaceful protest. This is not advocacy to advance reforms or transform any system,” the mayor told reporters.
“Last night’s violence by rioters at our east precinct was incomprehensible. We have people who are intentionally planning to go out and attack precincts, trap people inside, set fires to these buildings,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell added.

In this still image from video, a rioter uses a hammer to break glass front doors at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct, in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 5, 2020. (Portland Police Bureau)
Rioters are coordinating and planning the attacks ahead of time, according to officials.
The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation, a radical group linked to the far-left Antifa network, organized at least one of the riots this week. The group is pushing for the abolition of the police department and the prison system.
Rioters are prone to chanting out “Black Lives Matter” but officials say they are not affiliated with the movement.
Approximately 20 police officers were inside the bureau’s East Precinct on Wednesday, along with civilian staffers. The building is connected to townhomes, putting others at risk if it goes up in flames. Within seven minutes of arriving, rioters ripped protective boards from the precinct, used them to jam the front doors, and made a pile that they added accelerant to before ignition. At the same time, others shined lasers at surveillance cameras so officers couldn’t see what was happening.
Lt. Damon Simmons with Portland Fire & Rescue said rioters were “using fire as a weapon,” which could prove deadly.
Eight people were arrested for criminal activity, including one from Minnesota and one from Kentucky.
Portland Police Sgt. Brent Maxey told reporters in a separate press conference on Thursday that he was one of three officers inside the Justice Center, a county building, on June 29. He recounted how 150 to 200 rioters showed up and told officers directly they planned on killing them and burning the building down.
“They were tearing pieces of plywood off to expose the windows … It got to the point where they were throwing burning material into the lobby through gaps in the windows and blowing marijuana smoke. It was almost like a scene out of a horror movie. It was really unnerving,” he said.

Demonstrators raise their hands up in solidarity at Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Ore., on July 17, 2020. (Mason Trinca/Getty Images)
Just hours later, rioters gathered at the East Precinct on Thursday night and began to spray paint and dismantle surveillance cameras.
When two elderly women from the community tried stopping them, the group dumped an unknown white liquid, believed to be paint, on them.
The group soon lit a garbage can on fire and pushed it against the front of the building. One of the women tried extinguishing the flames but was blocked by several black-clad demonstrators.
Portland police officers declared an unlawful assembly around 10 p.m. and dispersed the crowd with the help of Oregon state troopers, who are helping deal with the continued unrest in a deal reached late last month.
As officers dispersed the crowd, they were hit with projectiles including glass bottles and heavy rocks. Several people with “press” affixed to their persons joined others in hurling projectiles. Rioters deployed a new weapon, large rebar ties, which damaged the tires of several police vehicles.
Pushed into nearby neighborhoods, the group at one point went back to a residential home they visited the previous evening and harassed a woman there. Her neighbors emerged with weapons and told the rioters to leave.
Wheeler, the mayor and police commissioner, has struggled to put forth a plan to quell the violence. He’s promoted a mix of appeasement and de-escalation that he said was working until federal officers arrived in larger numbers in early July to protect a federal courthouse.
Since the agreement between the state and federal officials in July, rioters have turned their attention to other buildings, primarily local and county law enforcement facilities.

Portland police officers pursue a crowd of about 200 after forcing the group to disperse from a law enforcement precinct in Portland, Ore., late Aug. 1, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Wheeler took more of a hardline stance on Thursday.
“This is criminal activity. It’s serious. Lives are at stake, and I’m authorizing the Portland Police Bureau and our affiliated agencies at Multnomah County and the state of Oregon to do whatever is necessary to safely hold those people accountable who are engaged in criminal activity and bring these nightly activities to a close,” he said.
The city will work with prosecutors and the courts to try to make sure people committing crimes are convicted, Wheeler said.
Another new angle was urging people who want to protest non-violently to stay away from the rioting.
“If you are a nonviolent demonstrator, and you are demonstrating for racial justice and equity and police reform, you don’t want to be part of this, you don’t want to show up,” Wheeler said.
He also admonished criminals, telling them that video footage of the rioting “will be used in ads nationally to help Donald Trump during his campaign.”
Other officials also appealed to people who keep joining the mayhem.
“If you are involved in this, please stop,” Simmons said. “If you are around someone who is involved in this, please ask them to stop.”

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IRS Says It Is Sending Checks, Debit Cards for Parents Who Missed $500 Checks

Some people are still receiving relief payments from the first round of COVID-19 stimulus bill, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which said it will start sending $500 checks to parents starting this week.
In guidance released this week, the tax agency said households can expect to receive payments in the coming weeks.
“The IRS will automatically issue the additional $500 EIP per qualifying child to affected individuals in early August for those who used the Non-Filers tool before May 17, 2020,” the IRS wrote in an update. “You can use Get My Payment to check the status of the $500 EIP per qualifying child, and you will receive another notice in the mail letting you know the $500 EIP per qualifying child was issued.”
Under the CARES Act, passed in March, parents were able to receive an extra $500 per qualifying child under the age of 17. The agency, however, needed more information about dependents from parents who were given incorrect amounts, according to the guidance.
These parents were asked to use the IRS’s non-filers tool to provide more information. Those who did so by May 17 will receive the payments starting next week.
Congress, meanwhile, and White House officials are still debating over the provisions of the next stimulus package, which, if passed, is sure to add stimulus checks of some amount. Republicans in their HEALS Act revealed last week are proposing $1,200 payments for eligible individuals as well as $500 checks, mirroring that of the CARES Act. Democrats, meanwhile, are seeking to expand the eligibility for who can actually receive the checks.
However, the most contentious issue for negotiators is whether to continue the $600-per-week unemployment benefits. Democrats want to have the benefits end next year while Republicans prefer $200-per-week payments before phasing to a program that would pay 70 percent of a person’s wages.

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Joe Biden Backtracks After Saying Black Communities Not As ‘Diverse’ As Latino Communities

Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday sought to clarify comments he made during an earlier interview suggesting that “the African American community is a monolith.”
Biden made the comment during a pre-taped interview hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists that was released in full on Thursday.
“By the way, what you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” Biden said in that interview.”You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona. So it’s a very different, a very diverse community.”
Biden’s remarks came in response to a question from NPR reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro regarding whether he would engage with Cuba and on the differing immigration concerns between Cuban and Venezuelan Americans.
In a series of Twitter posts Thursday night, Biden wrote, “Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.”
“Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community,” he continued. “It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place.”
“My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.”
President Donald Trump responded to the comments outside the White House on Thursday, telling reporters, “So I just watched a clip.  And Joe Biden, this morning, totally disparaged and insulted the black community. What he said is incredible. And I don’t know what’s going on with him, but it was a very insulting statement he made. And I guess you’ll figure that out. You’ll see it in a little while. But it was a great insult to the black community.”
Katrina Pierson, a Trump senior campaign adviser, said in a statement that, “The condescending white liberal racism that oozes out of Joe Biden is disgusting” and that the former vice president “tells a group of Black reporters that ‘you all know’ that Black people think alike.”
“There’s a reason Joe Biden can’t count on the support of Black voters and it’s because of his plantation owner mentality. President Trump has a true record of helping Black Americans, with unprecedented economic opportunity, record funding for HBCUs, criminal justice reform, and support for school choice.”
In May, Biden apologized after saying that “you ain’t Black” if “you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump” during an interview with radio show “The Breakfast Club.”

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Trump Orders Ban on Transactions With TikTok, WeChat Parent Companies

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order to ban transactions with TikTok and WeChat in 45 days. The executive orders also ban transactions with the two social media applications’ parent companies, Chinese-owned ByteDance and Tencent Holdings.
The executive order for TikTok said that “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” would be prohibited “with ByteDance Ltd. (a.k.a. Zìjié Tiàodòng), Beijing, China, or its subsidiaries,” in 45 days after the order, which is after Sept. 20.
The executive order for WeChat said that “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” would be prohibuted with its parent company “Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity,” in 45 days after the order.
Both executive orders said that the United States “must take aggressive action against” the owners of TikTok and WeChat to protect U.S. national security. Both orders also said that the applications “vast swaths of information from its users,” which “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
The orders come just days after Trump said that he would allow Microsoft or another U.S. company to buy TikTok.
This story is developing.

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Twitter Labels State Media, Government Officials’ Accounts

Twitter Inc. will label the accounts of state-affiliated media outlets, their senior staff, and some key government officials, the company said in a blog post on Thursday.
The accounts of Russia’s Sputnik, RT, and China’s Xinhua News are among the media organizations that will be labeled, according to a Twitter spokesman. He declined to provide a full list of entities.
“We believe that people have the right to know when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor,” Twitter said in its blog. It will also stop amplifying these accounts or their tweets through its recommendation systems.
The social media company defined state-affiliated media as those where the state exercises editorial control through financial resources or political pressure, or control over production and distribution.
Twitter said that state-financed media outlets with editorial independence, such as National Public Radio in the United States, or the BBC in the United Kingdom, would not be labeled. A spokesman also confirmed there were no U.S. media outlets on the list.
NPR receives minimal government funding.
Russia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter: “They think they can set the rules of the game! This is an illusion. Such clear double standards backfire and undermine the credibility of Western media, with ‘state-affiliate’ labels or without. People can’t find truth and facts there anymore.”
Twitter said it was focusing its government official labels on senior officials and entities that represent the voice of the state abroad, such as foreign ministers, official spokespeople, and institutional entities. Labeled accounts will include @WhiteHouse, @StateDept, @Elysee, @10DowningStreet, and @KremlinRussia.
The labels will at first be applied only to the officials from countries that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: China, France, Russia, Britain, and the United States. Twitter said the personal accounts of heads of states will not be labeled as there is public awareness of those individuals.
Twitter currently labels the accounts of candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate or governor during the 2020 election cycle.
Facebook Inc also said in June that it would start labeling state-controlled media organizations. In 2019, Twitter banned state-backed media advertising.
By Elizabeth Culliford

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Appeals court allows House Democrats' suit for McGhan's testimony to go forward

A federal appeals court on Friday allowed a House Democrats’ lawsuit to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before a congressional committee to go forward. 
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit voted 7-2 in favor of allowing the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee to make its claims in court. The ruling reverses a three-judge panel that would have ended the case.
However, time is running out for having McGhan testify, considering the current House session ends Jan. 3. 
The matter now returns to the panel for consideration of other legal issues, according to the Associated Press.

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Treasury Department levels sanctions against Hong Kong leaders over 'draconian' security law

The Treasury Department on Friday leveled sanctions against nearly a dozen leaders in Hong Kong over what the agency calls a “national emergency” of “malign activities” against citizens.
The department imposed sanctions on 11 individuals for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong,” according to a Treasury press release. 
In late June, China enacted a sweeping national security law intended to crack down on anti-Beijing protest in Hong Kong that were largely led by pro-democracy activists. The protests, over many months prior the law being enacted, included clashes with police, injuries and damage to commercial property.
The U.S. in announcing the sanctions cited “the recent imposition of draconian national security legislation” on the people of Hong Kong by the Communist Chinese government, claiming the named individuals have facilitated the execution of that law and other purported human rights abuses against the Hong Kongese. 
Among the sanctioned leaders is Carrie Lam, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Lam, the Treasury said, is “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” including her advocacy of a stricter extradition law for Hong Kong residents as well as her involvement in the controversial national security law. 
Also named is Chris Tang, the commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force. Tang, who the Treasury argues, has “enthusiastically supported” the security law, with the U.S. claiming he has participated in “coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of the National Security Law.”
Among the other sanctioned parties include the Hong Kong Secretary for Security, the Secretary for Justice, and the director of the Hong Kong Liaison Office. 
The sanctions “prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons,” the Treasury said. 

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Jerry Falwell, Jr., to take 'indefinite leave of absence' from Liberty University

Jerry Falwell, Jr. is taking an “indefinite leave of absence” for his position as president of Liberty University, following a controversial Instagram post, the school’s board of trustees confirmed in a statement Friday. 
Falwell, whose father founded the school 1971, has been president of the university since 2007, when he assumed the role from his father.
Fawell Jr. earlier this month when he published a photo on his personal Instagram account showing him with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman he later said was his wife’s personal assistant. Falwell claimed the photograph was taken during a costume party and the outfit was done in “good fun.”
Republican Rep. Mark Walker, the vice chair of the House Republican Conference, called on Falwell to resign over the photograph. Liberty’s board of trustees said on Friday that they requested he take the leave of absence from his position and that Falwell agreed to the request, “effective immediately.”

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House ethics panel concludes 'Squad' member Tlaib violated campaign law, must repay $10,800

The House Ethics Committee unanimously ruled Friday that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and member of the rebellious group of liberals known as “the Squad,”  violated election law by paying herself campaign funds after winning the 2018 election.
The committee concluded that Tlaib’s violations were the result of “bad timing” and not “ill intent” and that her only penalty should be to repay within a year $10,800 in monies she improperly collected.
The ruling was made public just a few days after Tlaib won a tough primary race on Tuesday.
“The Committee has determined that Representative Tlaib’s receipt of a portion of the post-general election payments violated FECA’s personal use restrictions because: (1) it represented a salary payment that covered a time period after she ceased being a candidate; and (2) it represented a deferred compensation payment that covered a time period after she ceased being a candidate,” the committee’s official report declared.
Candidates for federal office may pay themselves a reasonable salary during a campaign, which must cease after Election Day.
Tlaib’s campaign argued the post-election payments she received in 2018 were deferred compensation but the committee found conflict evidence and concluded the payments violated the “letter” of the law but were not an effort to “unjustly enrich herself.”
You can read the ruling here.

Tlaib is one of four freshman who won election in 2018 who became known as “the Squad,” a boisterous and proudly ultra liberal group that has pressured the House Democratic caucus to move further left on issues ranging from spending to social justice.
They also have been known for their intensity and occasional irreverence. Tlaib, for instance, made waves in January 2019 shortly before she took office when she declared “we’re gonna impeach the motherf—er” in reference to President Trump.

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State Department pings cell phones in Russia and Iran, hoping to root out election meddling

The U.S. government on Thursday sent text messages to cellphones across Russia and Iran, alerting user about a new State Department rewards program of up to $10 million for information about foreign entities attempting to interfere with the U.S. election. 
The effort is the latest in Trump administration’s attempt to root out 2020 election meddling and show that it takes the threat of foreign interference seriously. Investigations have shown Russia attempted to disrupt the 2016 elections. 
Some Russians and Iranians joked that for $10 million they would be willing to tell the United States government anything it wanted to hear, or stage a hack and provide information about it to collect on the government’s offer.
Others thought the effort was merely ungraceful and irritating, “By calling on people to talk for money about interference in American elections, the American special services are unceremoniously interfering in our life,” wrote spokeswoman for the Russian government Maria Zakharova, according to the New York Times.
It was not clear what technology the government used to disseminate the messages, or how many messages were sent, but ultimately, the popularity of the effort among recipients is of little consequence, so long as it yields a meaningful handful of individuals with salient information.
This initiative by the U.S. government comes on the heels of a State Department report detailing Russian efforts to spread misinformation and confusion surrounding the novel coronavirus and global pandemic. 

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Political correctness reaches space: NASA bans cosmic names like Eskimo, Siamese

The diversity and inclusion movement has left the galaxy, literally.
NASA this week announced it was banning the names Eskimo and Siamese for use in describing cosmic entities as part of an “ongoing reevaluation of the names by which we refer to astronomical objects.”
“It has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful,” the space agency declared. “NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The first big names changes were announced Wednesday. 
A Sun-like star that is blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life that was previously known as the “Eskimo Nebula” will now just be known by its alphanumerical ID NGC 2392, NASA said.
“Eskimo is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions. Most official documents have moved away from its use,” the agency’s press release said.
Likewise, two spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster that previously were known as the Siamese Twins Galaxy will now simply be referred to as NGC4567 and NGC 4568, it added.
“These nicknames and terms may have historical or culture connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them,” said Stephen T. Shih, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity. “Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.” 

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Destructive protests resume in Portland after federal agents withdraw from city

President Trump’s agreement with Oregon officials to remove federal agents guarding a federal courthouse in Portland against destructive protests has failed to stop the violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.  
On Thursday night, Portland police declared an unlawful assembly outside a precinct and protesters were ordered to leave, after acknowledging concerns about the crowd intending to vandalize and burn the precinct, according to the Associated Press.
The destructive demonstrations and clashes outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland temporarily stopped after an agreement between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and the Department of Homeland Security that called for agents to start leaving the city’s downtown on July 30.
However, they have resumed nightly in other parts of the city. 
Portland police, local sheriff’s deputies and State Police troopers are now on the frontlines in the clashes with demonstrators demanding an end to police funding, following the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. 
“You are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said Thursday at a news conference with Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell. 

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Two dozen arrested in Hong Kong for attending vigil, following new national security law

Twenty-four people in Hong Kong were reportedly charged Thursday for participating in a remembrance ceremony for those killing in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, the latest sign that China officials intended to enforce their sweeping new national security law.
The Chinese government enacted the law in June following months of disruptive, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Those convicted under the law could face life-imprisonment sentences. 
The Tiananmen vigil  took place June 4, before the new law was enacted. It has been held for decades but was banned this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to The New York Times.
The charges were filed a week after a dozen pro-democracy candidates, including sitting lawmakers, were barred from running in legislative elections in September.  The Hong Kong’s government postponed the election by one year, using the pandemic to justify the move, The Times also reports.

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Biden clarifies comment seeming to imply all Black Americans think alike

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday evening attempted to clarify comments made earlier in the day about African American and Latino communities that some have interpreted as divisive.  
During an interview with the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Biden said, “Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”
He was responding to a question about re-engaging with Cuba, should he be elected president. 
“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith – not by identity, not on issues, not at all,” Biden later said in a series of tweets. 
President Trump and his reelection has reelection campaign seized on the original comment, as they compete for the African-American vote. 
“Wow! Joe Biden just lost the entire African American community. What a ‘dumb’ thing to say!,” Trump tweeted.
Trump also told reporters: “I don’t know what’s going on with him, but it’s a very insulting statement he made.” 

This is not the first time this campaign cycle that Biden has made a comment about Black Americans that he had to clarify.
In May, Biden told radio host Charmagne tha God: “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” 
A campaign official later reportedly tweeted: “The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.”

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N.Y. Governor Cuomo allows schools to reopen in fall

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that schools can reopen in the fall for in-person learning, leaving districts to determine their own curriculum. 
The governor’s decision will allow schools to reopen in regions where the average rate of positive tests is below 5 percent, according to The New York Times. 
New York had the highest infection rate among U.S. states at the start of the pandemic.

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Overnight talks between White House, congressional Democrats failed to result in stimulus deal

Overnight negotiations between the White House and Democratic congressional leaders failed to result in an agreement on a fourth coronavirus stimulus package. 
The roughly two weeks of negotiations have stalled, with enhanced unemployment and other benefits in earlier stimulus packages having expired July 31.
Member of Congress have left Capitol Hill for the weekend and are not scheduled to return before Monday.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after a three-hour meeting Thursday evening that they’d come together on some smaller points in the deal but trillions of dollars apart on the larger issues. 
It is unclear whether they will meet on Friday. 
Congressional Republicans are steadfast about passing another roughly $3 trillion package, saying it should be smaller, not larger, than the previous one.
Meanwhile, the White House is reportedly finalizing a series of executive orders designed to halt evictions and students loan payments and extend enhanced unemployment insurance – provisions in earlier measures. 
“I think for those that are suffering, they should be asking … the Democrats in the House and the Senate: Why have you failed to meet the needs that we have so rightly expressed?” Meadows said Thursday night. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday night that he would keep the Senate in session “unless and until the Democrats demonstrate they will never let an agreement materialize.” 
Despite McConnell’s decision, many Senators went back to their home states for the weekend, saying they would return immediately if a deal happens. 

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Ohio Gov. DeWine tests negative for COVID-19 just hours after testing positive

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office says Republican governor has tested negative for COVID-19, just hours after announcing that he had tested positive for the virus.
DeWine on Thursday announced a positive coronavirus test result ahead of a visit by President Trump in Ohio. The governor said the test was part of a “standard protocol” applied to anyone who is scheduled to meet the president in person. 
Yet later in the day, the governor’s office announced on Twitter that, “in a second COVID-19 test administered today in Columbus,” the governor “tested negative.”
The governor’s office said the initial positive result was drawn from an antigen test, while the subsequent negative result came from a PCR test. The latter test “is known to be extremely sensitive, as well as specific, for the virus,” the office said. 
“We feel confident in the results” of the second test, DeWine’s office continued, adding that the state government “will be working with the manufacturer [of the antigen test] to have a better understanding of how the discrepancy between these two tests could have occurred.”
After his positive test, DeWine said he would be quarantining himself for two weeks at home per public health recommendations. It is unclear if he will still be quarantining following the negative result. 

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Poll: Three-quarters of all Americans would prefer to live anywhere but a big city

An overwhelming majority of Americans would prefer to live anywhere but a big city, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. 
A total of 73% of poll respondents said they would prefer to live in either a suburban area or a rural setting, rather than a large city or urban area. Only one out of every five Americans – 21% – said they would like to live in a city. Just 5% said they were “not sure” which they would prefer.

Just the News Daily Poll
With Scott Rasmussen

The number of respondents in favor of suburban and rural living follows several months of sustained and often violent social justice protests in dense city centers. New York, the country’s most densely populated city, was among the hardest hit by the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic. 
The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted Jul. 30 – Aug. 1, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.8% for full sample. 
To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click here.
To see the methodology and sample demographics for this polling question, click here. 

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Pelosi says Dems offered to 'come down a trillion' if White House goes 'up a trillion' on stimulus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that Democratic leaders will come “down a trillion” if the White House and Senate GOP come “up a trillion” with the fourth stimulus package.
Pelosi explained that Democrats asked for the White House and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to spend $1 trillion more above their original $1 trillion stimulus proposal but the request was rejected.
Despite this, Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said they will continue to press for additional spending in the next meeting on Friday with negotiators. 
“We’ll come down a trillion, you go up a trillion,” Pelosi said alongside Schumer during a press conference.
Referring to Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Schumer added, “They rejected it totally.”
Schumer said the White House is at $1 trillion total, adding that the Democrat-led House-passed HEROES Act would cost $3.4 trillion to $3.7 trillion.
“You have to meet in the middle,” he said.
The New York Democrat described Meadows’ positions toward stimulus spending as “quite hardened and non-compromising, more so than Mnuchin.”
The Senate GOP’s stimulus proposal includes a federal unemployment extension lower than the original $600 weekly payment and also does not include the $1 trillion in state and local funding that’s in the HEROES Act.

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Scowcroft, a national security adviser for two GOP presidents, dies at 95

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a national security adviser for two Republican presidents, died Thursday. He was 95.
Scowcroft served under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. He died of natural causes at his home in Falls Church, Virginia, according to the Associated Press. 
He was the only national security adviser to serve in two administrations. Ford appointed Scowcroft in 1975, after he retired from the Air Force. He served in the Bush administration from 1989 to 1993.
His career in public service is highlighted by his foreign policy work on such matters as the fall of communism in Europe, the response to China’s handling of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the Gulf War.
Scowcroft was born March 19, 1925, in Ogden, Utah, the son of the owner of a wholesale grocery business. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1947, then joined the Army Air Corps, which later became the Air Force. 
Scowcroft broke his back in an F-51 crash soon after completing flight school, hospitalizing him for two years.
Scowcroft also earned a master’s degree at Columbia University, and he studied at the Strategic Intelligence School in Washington. He taught at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
He was preceded in death by wife Marian Horner. He is survived by a daughter, Karen, and a granddaughter, Meghan.

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Justice Department Expands Operation Legend to Memphis and St Louis

The Justice Department (DOJ) announced on Thursday that Operation Legend will be expanded to Memphis, Tennessee, and St Louis, Missouri, as part of efforts to reduce violent crime in those cities.
Operation Legend, named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while sleeping in his home, was first launched in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of Trump’s promise to assist cities that have have been hit by a recent string of violence, the DOJ said. The operation has since been expanded to Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee.
Attorney General William Barr said that the two cities have recently been experiencing spikes in violent crime. Memphis saw an increase in homicides by 49 percent, reported gun crime by 23 percent, and aggravated shootings by 19 percent over 2019, the department said. Meanwhile, St Louis saw a nearly 34 percent rise of homicides and a 13 percent spike in non-fatal shootings.
“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” Barr said in a statement. “The Department of Justice’s assets will supplement local law enforcement efforts, as we work together to take the shooters and chronic violent criminals off of our streets.”
Officials say 16 federal investigators will be sent to Memphis on temporary assignment for 90 days, followed by 24 permanent agent assignments, who will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies in fighting violent gangs, gun crime, and drug trafficking organizations. Additional funding will also be made available to assist in the effort in the city as well as fund the hiring of 50 more police officers.
Similarly in St Louis, federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, as well as 50 agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be sent to augment the local law enforcement resources.
The announcement to surge federal agents and resources to cities across the country has raised concerns from Democrats on whether the real purpose of the deployment is to disrupt protests and rioting that erupted across the country following the death of George Floyd and to score election points for President Donald Trump, who is running on a “law and order” platform.
House Democrats during a recent Judiciary Committee hearing with Barr criticized the operation and grilled the attorney general over the initiative. During the hearing, Barr pushed back criticism, saying that the characterizations attempt to conflate Operation Legend and the federal deployment in Portland, Oregon, which the Trump administration has faced intense scrutiny for.
“You’ve conflated two different things. The effort, like [Operation] Legend, is to deal with violent crime. … That does not involve encountering protesters, as you refer to it. Civil disturbance is a separate set of issues,” Barr said. “And I just reject the decision that the department is flooded anywhere in an attempt to suppress demonstrators.”
The agents sent to Portland are tasked with protecting the federal courthouse after weeks of consecutive rioting that saw significant damage to the building and dozens of law enforcement agents injured. Local and state officials have criticized the Trump administration for the deployment, saying that the federal agents had escalated the matter and had engaged in alleged unconstitutional conduct when detaining rioters on the streets of the city.
The plan to expand the initiative to the two cities has been welcomed by local officials. St Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, said she supported the effort as it was her “highest priority” to protect the health and safety of over 300,000 people who live in the city.
“Over the last few months, we’ve seen an unprecedented surge in violent and deadly crime plaguing our City. During the months of June and July alone, our police officers responded to 85 homicides and numerous other non-fatal shootings. This continued violence is cutting lives short and devastating hundreds of victims, family members, and loved ones. We must hold the perpetrators of this crime accountable,” Krewson said in a statement.
“At a time when our police department is facing a serious shortage of approximately 140 officers, we need additional resources to help us investigate violent crimes, make arrests, and deter additional violent offenses across the City,” she said.
Similarly, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland underscored that the operation is a “violent crime reduction effort” and not “an introduction of federal riot police, uniformed personnel, or other federal agents to protect federal property, and is not intended to introduce any additional ICE resources to enforce immigration offenses.”
“As I said earlier this week, we need more officers to investigate violent crimes to get violent criminals off our streets. As long as these federal agents are focused on this task, we will be supportive,” Strickland said in a statement.
The DOJ first launched the operation in early July, saying that it would begin operating in Kansas, Missouri. Later in the month, Trump announced the expansion of the operation to other cities.
“This rampage of violence shocks the conscience of our nation and we will not stand by and watch it happen,” Trump said at the time. “No mother should ever have to cradle her dead child in her arms simply because politicians refuse to do what is necessary to secure their neighborhood and to secure their city.”

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DHS: Local Officials ‘Abandoned’ Feds in Portland

WASHINGTON—Like clockwork, for more than 60 nights, between midnight and 5 a.m., rioters and anarchists besieged the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Throughout June, as violence escalated and Federal Protective Service officers requested help, the Department of Homeland Security sent in about 20 more officers. In early July, more agents were deployed, including […]

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Quarantine ‘Checkpoint’ Opens at New York City’s Penn Station to Enforce Travel Rules

NEW YORK—A few dozen travelers got off a train from Miami at New York City’s Penn Station on Thursday and were greeted by a team of public health workers and mayoral office staff who handed them informational fliers about the state’s new COVID-19 quarantine rules. The team, comprised of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public engagement […]

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State Department Eases Global CCP Virus Travel Advisory

The U.S. State Department on Thursday lifted the level 4 health advisory that advised Americans to avoid international travel in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with […]

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US Offers $10 Million Reward for Info on Foreign Cyber Election Interference

The Department of State on Aug. 5 offered a $10 million reward for anyone who identifies or locates hackers who work for a foreign government to interfere in the U.S. election.
The United States is specifically looking for information on people who may have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act while targeting local, state or federal elections. Special counsel Robert Mueller charged 12 Russian nationals in 2018 with violating the same statute in connection to the theft and dissemination of Democratic National Committee emails.
“The ability of persons, as well as foreign powers, to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” the wanted notice states, referencing an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in September 2018.
The U.S. intelligence community assessed in January 2017 that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. 
The State Department issued the $10 million reward notice with less than three months left until the federal election on Nov. 3. China, Russia, and Iran are actively working to undermine the election, the head of U.S. counterintelligence said on July 24.
The reward is managed by the Rewards for Justice program, which has disbursed more than $150 million to more than 100 people around the world who provided information to bring terrorists to justice and protect national security. 
On the same day, the State Department released a report on one of the pillars of Russia’s ongoing election interference efforts. The report detailed Moscow’s use of proxy websites to push disinformation and propaganda.
“The Kremlin invests massively in its propaganda channels. Its intelligence services and proxies conduct malicious cyber activity to support their disinformation efforts. And it leverages outlets that masquerade as news sites or research institutions to spread false and misleading narratives,” U.S. Special Envoy for the Global Engagement Center Lea Gabrielle told reporters in a briefing about the report.
In addition to promoting COVID-19 disinformation and pro-Russia content, Moscow uses the proxy websites to promote pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) narratives, the report found.
“Beijing has also taken a page from Russia’s playbook, leveraging conspiracy websites and proxy channels to push disinformation and propaganda with the goal of undermining democratic norms and institutions,” Gabrielle said. 
“The threat of both China’s and Russia’s disinformation is real and it’s dangerous. Authoritarian governments seek to manipulate open and free information environments.”

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Arkansas Requires Schools to Open for On-campus Learning 5 Days a Week

State officials in Arkansas made it clear Wednesday that they expect schools to open for in-person learning five days a week when the new school year starts later this month.
“This is not a change in our stance at all since March when the governor made the announcement to close schools for on-site instruction,” said Arkansas’ Education Secretary Johnny Key during a press briefing. “We have said since Day One that the plan for the fall is to come back and have school on-site.”
“We had been made aware that some districts were making plans that were for fewer than five days [per week], and we felt like that clarification was needed today to make sure that districts understood we do have a state responsibility,” Key continued.
In response to districts’ reopening plans to reduce the number of days of on-campus, face-to-face learning, Key issued a clarification memo (pdf) Wednesday, requiring most school districts in the state to offer a full week of in-person learning experience for all students, unless otherwise advised by the Arkansas Department of Health.

A parent and her children look over the free book table after picking up their personal belongings that have been put in a paper bag in the gym at Freedom Preparatory Academy in Provo, Utah, on May 18, 2020. (George Frey/Getty Images)
“Arkansas Constitution requires the State to provide a general, suitable, and efficient system of free public schools, meaning a substantially equal opportunity for an adequate education,” read the memo. “School districts not affording onsite educational opportunities each day creates inequity that impedes the state from ensuring its responsibility is met.”
The memo also requires districts that operate on five-day schedules but only offer in-person learning on four of those days to open on the fifth day “for students to participate as needed or to access needed resources for instruction, interventions and therapy.” Similarly, districts that only open three days for in-person learning must be open for the other two days for students to interact or to get resources they need.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson supported the directive, saying that schools staying open five days a week is essential to parents who find it hard to rejoin workforce while taking care of children learning from home.
“How to you go to work two days…with kids at home leaning virtual? Because that has to have some parental supervision,” the Republican governor said during a press conference Wedneday. “If they’re learning virtual, particularly the younger grades, and even the higher grades, you don’t leave them in the house alone. You have to have some supervision there.”
“And so it really impacts the workflow, and that’s what I’ve heard from the parents that are concerned about that schedule,” said Hutchinson.

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2020 Hurricane Season Could be One of the Busiest on Record: New Forecasts

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season could be one of the busiest on record, according to two forecasts released this week.
The 2020 season has already set a rapid pace, with a record-setting nine named storms so far.
Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August, and the ninth named storm doesn’t form until Oct. 4.
“This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement alongside the release of the updated forecast from the center on Thursday.
Forecasters use the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index, a comprehensive measure of hurricane season activity, to forecast what will happen later this year. Based on the index projection, combined with the above-average number of named storms, the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season is now 85 percent, up from 60 percent in May.
The updated outlook calls for 19 to 25 named storms. Named storms have winds of 39 miles per hour or greater.
Seven to 11 of those storms will become hurricanes and three to six will develop into major hurricanes, which have wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour, forecasters said.

The updated 2020 Atlantic hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms. (NOAA)
The six-month hurricane season ends on Nov. 30.
“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks. NOAA will continue to provide the best possible science and service to communities across the Nation for the remainder of hurricane season to ensure public readiness and safety,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
NOAA is an office inside the Department of Commerce.
Oceanic and atmospheric conditions driving the high number of serious storms include warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and an enhanced west African monsoon.
The conditions are expected to continue for the next several months.

Comparison of recently-released @ColoradoStateU and @NOAA seasonal #hurricane forecasts for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Both call for very active season – CSU forecast generally slightly to somewhat higher than midpoint of NOAA range. pic.twitter.com/AiM0caox5k
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) August 6, 2020

NOAA’s forecast came one day after Colorado State University forecasters projected 24 named storms this year, including 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes. All those projections are well above the average number that occurred between 1981 and 2010.
Besides the elevated sea surface temperatures, forecasters highlighted a vertical wind shear well below average.
Information analyzed through July “indicates that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will be extremely active,” forecasters wrote in their updated outlook.
“Warmer than normal water across the tropical Atlantic provides more fuel for tropical cyclones and also is associated with lower than normal pressure (as was observed in July) and increased instability—all of which favor more hurricane activity,” they added.
Coastal residents were warned to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane making landfall near them. According to the forecast, there is an above-normal probability for major hurricanes to make landfall along the continental U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean.

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Tests Positive for COVID-19

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for COVID-19 but is showing no symptoms, he announced Thursday.
The Republican had been scheduled to greet President Donald Trump at an airport in Cleveland.
As part of standard protocol—everyone who is scheduled to come into contact with the president is tested for COVID-19—DeWine was tested, and the results came back positive.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
DeWine, 73, is showing no symptoms but is returning to Columbus where he and his wife, Fran DeWine, will be tested.
The governor plans on isolating for 14 days, which some health officials recommend after testing positive.
“As part of the standard protocol to greet President Trump on the tarmac in Cleveland, I took a COVID test. I tested positive. I have no symptoms at this time. I’m following protocol and will quarantine at home for the next 14 days,” DeWine said in a statement.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted also took a test on Thursday as part of the protocol to greet the president. Husted tested negative.
DeWine appears to be the second governor in the nation to have a confirmed case of the new disease. Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt tested positive last month.
Stitt, 47, said he sought out a test after feeling fatigued.
The governor said he didn’t have other symptoms, such as fever, but would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on quarantining.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell.
Health officials believe the CCP virus spreads mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact, or within about six feet, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.
Some studies suggest infected people without symptoms can still spread the virus.
A significant percentage of patients show no or few symptoms, according to health officials. The virus primarily causes severe illness in the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
A small percentage—under 1 percent—of patients die from the disease or complications linked to the disease.
The vast majority of patients recover with no treatment, symptom treatment, or hospital care.

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NY Attorney General Seeks to Dissolve NRA in Lawsuit

New York Attorney General Letitia James is filing a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA), seeking to dissolve the organization for alleged violations on state law governing charities.
In a news release on Thursday, the state’s top prosecutor said the organization has engaged in the “diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no- show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.”
It names NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre as well as NRA executives John Frazier, Woody Phillips, and Joshua Powell as defendants. The suit is expected to be filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court this week.
The four executives allegedly “failed to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the NRA,” adding that they “used millions upon millions from NRA reserves for personal use, including trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel.”
James, meanwhile, said that she wants to see the gun lobbying group, which is chartered in New York state, to shut down.
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” she said. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

A picture of Wayne LaPierre is seen at the National Rifle Association (NRA) booth during CPAC 2019 in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 28, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
In response, the NRA said that the lawsuit is a politically motivated attack on the organization and the Second Amendment, which ensures the right to bear arms.
“You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as .we move into the 2020 election cycle,” the 150-year-old organization said. “It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda. This has been a power grab by a political opportunist – a desperate move that is part of a rank political vendetta.”
President Donald Trump told reporters at White House on Thursday that the lawsuit is a “terrible thing,” adding that it should move to another state such as Texas.
“This has been going on for a long time. They’ve been absolutely decimated by the cost of that lawsuit, and it’s very sad,” he added.
The NRA has not responded to a request for comment.

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FBI Raids Cleveland Offices of Firm Linked to Ukrainian Oligarch

The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Aug. 4 raided the offices of a company tied to Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.
Agents searched the office of real estate firm Optima Management Group in a downtown Cleveland high-rise as part of an ongoing investigation, the FBI said. No one was taken in custody.
“The Cleveland Division of the FBI, along with our partners at IRS-CID, had law enforcement activity at two locations yesterday,” said Special Agent Vicki Anderson in an email to The Epoch Times. “One at One Cleveland Center, Cleveland, Ohio, and the other at Southgate Financial Center, Miami, Florida.”
It’s not clear whose offices were searched in Miami.
“All documents are under seal so no further information can be provided at this time,” Anderson said.
She said the bureau didn’t officially confirm that the raid targeted Optima Management Group, but that the media could see through the first floor windows “that Optima was [the] office we were in.”
Optima Management Group is among a number of related entities that are reportedly majority-owned, through one or more intermediaries, by Privat Group, the business conglomerate led by Kolomoisky.
The investigation pertains to financial crimes and money laundering allegations, the Daily Beast reported in April last year, referring to “three people briefed on the probe.” It may be related to allegations that Kolomoisky laundered through American properties hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest bank, at the time when it was co-owned by Kolomoisky.
Kolomoisky earlier denied the allegations.
The bank was confiscated by the Ukrainian government in 2016, citing insolvency and fraud. Kolomoisky denied this and is suing for compensation. The government said it had to bail out the bank with about $5.6 billion even as the Ukrainian economy was at the time kept afloat by more than $7.6 billion in International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans (pdf).
Kolomoisky said the bank’s loans identified as bad by the government were in fact recoverable, according to Financial Times.
Last year, the bank raised the fraud and money laundering allegations against Kolomoisky and related businesses and persons in a Delaware lawsuit that appears to have gone nowhere since then (pdf).
Kolomoisky and his business partner were investigated by Ukrainian authorities for allegedly transferring $1.7 billion from PrivatBank to off-shore accounts through an elaborate loan scheme.
Kolomoisky has denied the allegations.
The IMF, which in June promised Ukraine another $5 billion in loans, has insisted PrivatBank nationalization should not be reversed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made his fame playing a president on a comedy TV show that ran on a channel owned by Kolomoisky, who backed his candidacy. Zelensky has been accused by opponents of having ties too close to Kolomoisky, which he denied.
Forbes estimates Kolomoisky’s fortune to be $1.1 billion.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Investment Chief of CalPERS, Country’s Largest Pension Fund, Steps Down

Ben Meng, who managed California’s $400 billion pension fund—the nation’s largest—has resigned from his position as chief investment officer after about one-and-half years in the role.
California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) oversees benefits for more than 2 million of the state’s public employees.
Meng’s China ties—first highlighted in a July 2019 Epoch Times report—drew recent scrutiny from U.S. officials.
The Aug. 5 statement from CalPERS did not provide a reason for Meng’s abrupt departure. Dan Bienvenue, the deputy chief investment officer, will serve as the interim CIO as CalPERS searches for a permanent successor. Meng said through the statement that he wishes to “focus on my health and on my family and move on to the next chapter in my life.”
Meng, who came to the United States at 25 and later became a U.S. citizen, first worked for CalPERS as an investment director from 2008 to 2015.
From 2015 until he was hired as CalPERS CIO in January 2019, he was deputy CIO at China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), an administrative agency under the State Council in charge of the country’s roughly $3 trillion foreign reserves.
CalPERS reported a return of 4.7 percent for the year ending in June, missing its 7 percent target return necessary to fulfill its pension obligations, according to a recent press release. It lost about $70 billion in asset value in late February and March as global stock markets crashed amid the pandemic, although the fund said it was able to recuperate nearly all of the losses by the end of June.
The California state executive agency credited Meng with helping the fund beat the “benchmark of 4.3% during a time of extreme financial market volatility sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.”
‘Cozy’ China Ties
Meng’s stint at a Chinese state agency and the pension fund’s growing investments in Chinese companies, have previously attracted attention amid the administration’s hardening stance on the Chinese regime’s influence.
“Some of the CalPERS investment policies are incredibly concerning,” U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said on March 11 during an appearance at the Washington-based think tank Heritage Foundation. He described it as “an issue of security for American investors.”
“We’ve got folks who are going to rely on their pension for their retirement and putting those investments into companies that…don’t have the same reporting requirements that American companies do, is scary.”
According to a 2017 report by official Chinese regime mouthpiece People’s Daily, Meng had been a participant in the Chinese government’s headhunting program called the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) until 2015, when he was recruited to SAFE. Beijing has hired thousands of researchers and high-level professionals over the past decade through the program to boost its global tech ambitions. An FBI official, in a 2018 testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, flagged the program as “China’s non-traditional espionage against the United States.”
In a Feb. 13 letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) called for a “thorough investigation” into Meng’s China links, citing his “long and cozy” relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.
When interviewed by People’s Daily in 2017 about his return to China, Meng said that “in a person’s life, if there is an opportunity to contribute to the motherland, this responsibility and honor is unmatched by anything.”
Chinese state media had largely showered praise over Meng’s success at SAFE, and also wrote positive reports when he later decided to leave SAFE and return to CalPERS.
Banks said he “would fire Mr. Meng immediately” if it was his call.
Chinese Investments in Question
The pension fund held 240 Chinese bonds as of June 30, 2019, marking a 40 percent jump from the 172 names in the previous year, according to CalPERS’ annual report. The types of investments span corporate bonds, domestic and international securities, and private investments.
The pension fund held 63.1 million shares in China Unicom, a state-run telecommunications provider that built North Korea’s internet network, and which the Federal Communications Commission threatened to bar from the United States over national security risks. Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance equipment manufacturer that CalPERS invested in, was recently placed on a federal trade blacklist over its role in human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
As of June 30, 2019, CalPERS also held 5.7 million shares in the state-owned China Communications Construction Co., which has built naval and military bases in the disputed South China Sea. The Chinese regime considers most of the waterway as part of its territory, despite a 2016 international court ruling against its claims.
Banks applauded Meng’s department in a statement on Aug. 6. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund our adversary’s military. With Yu Ben Meng’s departure, CalPERS now has the opportunity to correct its course and divest from companies within China’s military-industrial complex.”
In June, Banks introduced the “Stop Funding the PLA Act” to block U.S. investments into Chinese military industrial bases. “We need to end our cognitive dissonance and stop funding the rise of our chief global adversary,” he said at the time.

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JKC Trucking Stops Deliveries to Cities Pushing to Defund or Disband Police Departments

The co-owner of an Illinois trucking company said during an interview on Wednesday it is stopping all transportation to cities that are calling to defund or disband police departments.
Mike Kucharski, who co-owns the Chicago-based company JKC Trucking, said he wants to keep his drivers safe, even though it might impact the company’s revenue “tremendously.”
The number one priority “is to support our drivers and their safety when they are on the road,” Kucharski said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“Defunding the police is a bad idea because when you’re on the road for weeks or days at a time driving 11 hours with valuable cargo, everybody wants to steal this,” Kucharski continued. “When you’re a truck driver long enough on the road there’s no safe place, violence is everywhere.”
Truck driving has been ranked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. In 2018, the department reported it as the most deadly job. Records show there were a total of 5,250 fatal work injuries nationwide in 2018, a 2 percent increase from 5,147 in 2017.
“If you’re gonna be having valuable cargo and there is going to be no police to rely on, who’s going to protect our drivers?” Kucharski explained.

Police guard the traffic of trucks in Washington on April 28, 2008. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
In a survey conducted by CDLLife this year in mid-June, 79 percent of truckers said they will refuse to deliver to cities that had defunded their police departments. Many truck drivers expressed their concerns via messages to the poll, with one trucker writing “no cops, no trucks.”
“Why would I wanna risk my life even more than I already do… the cops are out to protect us and everyone else’s bad enough, drivers are already being shot at as it is,” the concerned truck driver wrote. “Take away the cops and I could die and if I have my kid or family member with me when I’m there they could die. Not risking my life for these [expletive], let the shelves go empty in these defunded areas.”
Trucking expert Dan Doran, who has been working in the transportation service for over 40 years and was the chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) in 2018 told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) in mid-June that companies in certain areas that want to receive their load safely will likely be forced to “beef up security.”
“A good customer may tell a good carrier that they’ll provide them some security to get them into the city limits… some kind of an escort,” Doran explained. “I think any reputable carrier is going to listen to that concern and take steps to help the driver become more comfortable going in there.”
“Truckers were already getting nervous about all these protests before they even started talking about defunding the police,” he continued.

Truck driver Randy Griffith stands next to his Freighliner at the TA Truck Service truck stop in London, Ohio, on March 19, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Kucharski said on Fix that “another issue that I am seeing in the future is I have cargo insurance, liability insurance, fiscal damage insurance, and I am very curious how when I renew my contracts at the end of the year, if there is going to be language—if I am going to even have coverage going into these places.”
“Right now I have coverage going all over domestically,” he said. “You have to get special coverage for Canada or Mexico or you might have to buy special riders for this on top of everything.”
Darren Yancy, a commercial insurance consultant, told TNN in June the defunding of police could increase potential risks from crime, such as theft and fires, and transportation companies could consider increasing insurance costs.
Yancy added that the possible dangers to both the load and truckers, and the associated increase in costs, will force companies to choose whether or not to deliver to those areas.
A Fox host concluded the interview by asking Kucharski if he had a message for the trucking community during these trying times, which he replied that, “defunding the police is not the solution.”
“We all have to work together with critical thinking and find a solution. The problem, during this time of crisis, the government has been behind the steering wheel. It’s time for small businesses to take over the steering wheel, take back the steering wheel, and make the right decisions, to sit down with the politicians,” he explained. “I welcome the politicians to sit down with us so we can educate them [on] what is best for the economy and small businesses. Last time I checked small businesses were the backbone of America.”
Many truckers have been fearful of their safety and what might happen if there are no police departments in cities. Truckers have been on the front lines for the last few months, in both the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic and the protests over police brutality.
Trucking companies and experts have been expressing their concerns following the “defund the police” movement in the wake of the police custody death of George Floyd that has since sparked nationwide protests.
The latest move to defund the police was by the Seattle City Council, who approved on Wednesday to cut millions in funding to the Seattle Police Department but rejected a pair of proposals that would have slashed $75 million from the department’s budget.
Trucking industry stakeholders told TNN they will be following developments and see how far these policies will go.
Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
From NTD News

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FBI Raids California Home of YouTube Star Jake Paul

LOS ANGELES—FBI agents including a SWAT team served a search warrant at the home of YouTube star Jake Paul on Wednesday.
The FBI executed the search warrant starting at 6 a.m. at the Calabasas, California, mansion in connection with an ongoing investigation, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a statement.
A judge has sealed the search-warrant affidavit and Eimiller said she could not reveal the nature of the investigation or the person it was served on.
Paul’s attorney Richard Schonfeld confirmed the home was his.
“We understand that a search warrant was executed at Jake’s Calabasas home this morning while Jake was out-of-state,” Schonfeld said in an email. “We are still gathering information and will cooperate with the investigation.”
Video from local television news helicopters showed agents gathering several rifles from the sprawling property with a boxing ring and hot tub in the backyard that appears in many of Paul’s recent YouTube videos.
A SWAT team initially entered the property, Eimiller said. No arrests were made.
Police in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday said they were dismissing charges of criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly there against Paul and two others “so that a federal criminal investigation can be completed,” but that they may be refiled later.
Paul had been charged there when he appeared on video in June inside a Scottsdale mall that a big crowd of people had broken into, looting stores.
Paul said in a subsequent YouTube video that he had only been looking for people protesting the death of George Floyd, and he did not take part in any of the destruction.
Paul, 23, has over 20 million followers on his YouTube channel, which features stunts, pranks, stories from his personal life, and more recently music videos.
He rose to fame on the short video app Vine and spent 2 years as an actor on the Disney Channel show “Bizaardvark.”
His older brother, Logan Paul, has a similar YouTube channel with even more followers.
Neighbors have complained to media outlets for several years about the stunts Jake Paul has pulled on the property for his YouTube channel.
Last month, Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub harshly criticized him after video emerged of dozens of people at a party at his home amid the coronavirus outbreak, with no apparent masks or social distancing.
By Andrew Dalton

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US Judge Requests Assange Testimony in Case Brought by Parents of Slain DNC Staffer

A federal magistrate judge in New York requested assistance from a UK court on Aug. 5 in obtaining testimony from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for a U.S. civil lawsuit brought against Fox News and others by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee voter data director Seth Rich.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn requested the international assistance in accordance with the Hague Convention.
“In the proper exercise of its authority, this court has determined that the evidence cannot be secured except by the intervention of the English courts and that assistance from the English courts would serve to further the international interests of justice and judicial cooperation,” the judge wrote in a memorandum for the senior master of the Royal Courts of Justice.
Joel and Mary Rich, Seth Rich’s parents, sued Fox News in March 2018 nearly a year after the news network published and retracted an article titled “Seth Rich, slain DNC staffer, had contact with WikiLeaks, say multiple sources.” The Riches claimed the network inflicted intentional emotional distress on them by slandering their son. The case was dismissed in August 2018, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal more than a year later.
The case has since entered the discovery phase and the judge determined that Assange’s testimony is crucial for determining the central dispute between the parties—whether the article was a “sham” as the Riches claim, or “substantially true” as maintained by Fox News.
“Mr. Assange, as founder of WikiLeaks, is exceptionally suited to provide testimony that will be highly relevant to these issues. Therefore, Fox News, by and through this letter of request issued by the District Court, is formally requesting the testimony of Mr. Assange for use at trial,” the request to the UK court states.
The attorneys for the Riches did not reply to a request for comment.

Buildings are reflected in the window as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping British bail, in London on May 1, 2019. (Matt Dunham/AP)
Seth Rich was slain in Washington on July 10, 2016, less than 2 weeks before WikiLeaks “released a collection of thousands of internal emails and documents taken from the DNC servers,” the U.S. court request states. One month after Rich’s murder, Assange brought up the DNC staffer’s name in an interview with a Dutch television reporter when discussing the dangers faced by WikiLeaks sources. On Aug. 9, 2016, WikiLeaks offered $20,000 for information about Rich’s murder. The website increased the reward to $130,000 in January 2017.
The Fox News article—authored by Malia Zimmerman, one of the named defendants—cited an anonymous federal investigator who claimed to have reviewed the FBI forensic file on Rich and read emails between the slain staffer and WikiLeaks. Two days after the article was published, Joel Rich wrote to Zimmerman asking that the article be retracted. Fox News retracted the article on May 23, stating that “the article was not initially subject to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.”
The magistrate judge’s request for assistance includes a list of 20 specific questions for Assange, including how, when, and from whom WikiLeaks obtained the stolen DNC emails and whether Seth Rich played any role in obtaining the emails or providing them to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks did not respond to a request for comment.
The judge asked for a response from the UK counterparts by Sept. 1. Should the royal court oblige, the interview of Assange would proceed via video conference, according to Netburn’s request.
Assange is in a UK jail for failing to appear in court. He faces possible extradition to the United States, where he has been charged with espionage and hacking conspiracy for his work with Chelsea Manning, who was convicted in 2013 for illegally disclosing nearly 750,000 classified U.S. government files through Wikileaks.
Even if Assange provides no information on Seth Rich, the WikiLeaks founder’s testimony could have consequences reaching far beyond the civil lawsuit. While U.S. authorities blamed Russia for stealing the DNC emails, the claim remains an allegation with no conclusive evidence in the public realm.
After discovering hackers on its network in March 2016, the DNC hired cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike in early May to protect its system and oust the intruders. Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleged that the DNC email server was breached more than 3 weeks later. CrowdStrike told The Epoch Times that there is no indication that any DNC system protected by its technology was ever breached. Shawn Henry, who led the CrowdStrike team, told Congress that his company had no evidence that emails were stolen from the DNC.

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Seattle City Council Approves Slashing Millions From Police Department

The Seattle City Council on Wednesday approved cutting millions in funding to the Seattle Police Department, but rejected a pair of proposals that would have slashed $75 million from the department’s budget.
Council members approved an amendment to dismantle the 14-member Navigation Team, a group that works to connect homeless people to housing and other resources. In a 5-4 vote, they also approved defunding the team altogether, cutting $2.9 million and redirecting some of it to homeless services outside the department.
The vote was to “disband” the team, Councilwoman Tammy Morales said during the Select Committee Hearing.
“This would allow us to give hope to so many of our neighbors who lost faith in a city that has used public dollars to repeatedly mistreat and push people out of sites,” said Morales, a Democrat, referring to homeless people as “unhoused people.”
Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said the team was “euphemistically named.”
The sweeps of homeless encampments the team carries out are “inhumane and ineffective,” she argued, adding, “They just move people from one corner to the next and they do nothing to increase available shelter space or affordable housing.”
In a statement to the Seattle Times, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office said the Democrat opposes the cut.

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant speaks as demonstrators hold a rally outside of the Seattle Police Department’s abandoned East Precinct, in Seattle on June 8, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
Durkan “is concerned that the council has voted to eliminate this entire unit without a plan to bridge the gap with outreach services to address the impacts of unmanaged encampments,” the statement said.
Mike Stewart, executive director of the Ballard Alliance of businesses, told the paper in an email that cutting the team was “irresponsible,” pointing to a hepatitis A outbreak in an encampment in Ballard Commons Park earlier this year that was removed by the team.
“If not for the Navigation Team, the consequences for both sheltered and unsheltered residents of North Seattle would have been dire,” he said.
Council members adopted another amendment that limits the pay of top-level police staff. The measure will cut funding to the department by $500,000, according to Sawant, a socialist. Other approved amendments included redirecting $36,000 from the department’s implicit bias training budget and $800,000 from the department’s recruitment and retention efforts.
In all, the budget committee approved a reduction in the size of the police force of dozens of officers. The department currently has approximately 14,000 officers.
But they rejected two proposals from the councilwoman that would have slashed the police department’s funding by 50 percent.
Despite a majority of the council committing last month to defunding the department by 50 percent, every member voted no on the proposal except for Council President M. Lorena González, who abstained. No one seconded the other amendment, which meant there was no vote on it.

Police block a road during protests near the Seattle Police East Precinct in Seattle, Wash., on July 26, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
Sawant blasted her colleagues in a statement after the meeting.
“Our movement has every right to be disappointed and angry at the Democratic Party majority on the City Council for falling so dramatically short of the promises they made just last month to honor the community demand to defund SPD by 50 percent,” she wrote.
Some council members are already eyeing next year’s police budget for deep cuts. Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda, a Democrat, told KOMO News that she projects the department could be defunded by 41 to 42 percent in 2021.
In an email to supporters, the Seattle Police Officers Guild, a police union, said, “City Council Rejects Key Proposals!”
“We’re making an impact but the fight is not over! We need everyone’s full support now more than ever,” the guild said.
People were encouraged to sign a petition against defunding police that’s received over 125,000 signatures and attend a rally on Aug. 9 at Seattle’s City Hall.
The council’s Budget Committee met last week to formally introduce a series of proposals for cutting funding to the police. The total of the cuts approved Wednesday wasn’t clear. A final vote on spending is scheduled for Aug. 10.

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Georgia Governor Signs Law Granting Enhanced Legal Protections for Police Officers

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Aug. 5 signed into law a new measure pushed by Republicans that grants enhanced legal protections for police officers, and provides additional criminal penalties for those who target officers.
House Bill 838 criminalizes what it calls “bias-motivated intimidation.” Under the measure, individuals who cause the death or serious bodily injury of a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician can face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The crime also applies to individuals who cause more than $500 in damage to property owned by first responders.
The measure says the sentence must be added to any other criminal conviction and cannot be served at the same time as others, with each violation counted as a separate crime. Under these rules, violations such as vandalism aimed at officers could result in separate convictions for both the new crime under House Bill 838, and the vandalism itself.
Police officers will also be allowed to sue people or entities for either infringing on their civil rights “arising out of the officer’s performance of official duties,” or knowingly filing false complaints against them.
Kemp said in a statement that he signed the measure into law because he has attended too many funerals of officers killed in the line of duty. He described the bill as a “step forward as we work to protect those who are risking their lives to protect us.”
“While some vilify, target, and attack our men and women in uniform for personal or political gain, this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue,” Kemp said.
Critics meanwhile have said the bill is flawed and out of step with nationwide efforts to make officers more accountable for their actions.
It was passed alongside a new bill penalizing hate crimes in Georgia. Senate Republicans originally sought to include first responders as a protected class in the hate crimes bill, but a furious revolt by Democrats threatened to sink the effort, especially because some Republicans opposed the hate crimes bill.
An opponent of the measure, Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, said that it was “hastily drafted” and unnecessary partly, she said, because the Georgia code already includes “more than sufficient protections” for police officers.
“HB 838 was hastily drafted as a direct swipe at Georgians participating in the Black Lives Matter protests who were asserting their constitutional rights.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump Says Arizona Is ‘Model’ for Reducing COVID-19 Cases, Avoiding ‘Punishing Lockdown’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised Arizona as a “model” for the nation in handling the CCP virus while avoiding a prolonged lockdown, which he calls “punishing.”
“Arizona has been able to protect high risk populations and quickly bring its outbreak under control without the need to impose overly punitive measures,” Trump told reporters at a press conference at the White House. The president called Arizona “a model for applying a science-based approach to the decreasing cases and hospitalizations” without imposing a “punishing lockdown.”
“Arizona has a record and a record really to be proud of. It’s reduced the number of daily new cases by over 75 percent, cut the positivity rate in half and reduced ER visits by two-thirds, all the while keeping the economy functioning and functioning really well,” Trump told reporters.
The state experienced a severe increase in cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, starting around the end of May.
The number of daily confirmed cases is now at a downward trajectory after having reached a peak around late June to early July, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Arizona now has more than 182,200 confirmed CCP virus cases and 3,932 deaths recorded as of early Thursday.
At a White House meeting with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) at the White House earlier in the day, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said that Arizona has set an example of how to get the reproduction rate of the CCP virus to below 1, which means the outbreak is subsiding. The replication rate is the number of new infections generated by each case.

President Donald Trump makes remarks as he meets with Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey in the Oval Office, in Washington, on Aug. 5, 2020. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via Getty Images)

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, left and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, right, look on as President Donald Trump makes remarks as he meets with Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey in the Oval Office at the White House, on Aug. 5, 2020. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via Getty Images)
“We’ve demonstrated now that you can keep a state open and retail open if you do these five commonsense pieces. And it’s created a safe — saved the hospitals and saved a lot of Arizonans,” Birx said.
Ducey told Trump that Arizona has implemented a number of mitigation steps such as encouraging the wearing of masks, social distancing, personal hygiene, and staying home if one feels sick.
“We’ve got masks in over 90 percent of our states right now … And we did take some further steps,” Ducey said. “We were in the unhappy but responsible position of dispersing large crowds. So bars and nightclubs and gyms all closed temporarily. But upon putting those steps out there, we’ve seen improvement every week, week over week, for four weeks.”
The Trump administration is pursuing similar actions to Arizona with other states. Members of the White House coronavirus task force have visited more than 15 states to encourage a similar course of action, including Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio.

President Donald Trump meets with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Aug. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The federal government has provided Arizona with ample help and resources in its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, Trump said. Such efforts include the provision of nearly 70,000 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir—enough to treat more than 11,000 patients—and the deployment of more than 1,000 national guard and medical personnel to Arizona.
Trump noted at the press conference that the goal for states is to “protect the most vulnerable, increase recovery rates … and prevent hospitals overcrowding, all the while preventing the kind of stringent lockdowns that would inflict substantial suffering in this phase of the battle.”
He noted that at its peak, Arizona still had 15 percent of beds available across the state, with about 20 percent of all occupied beds assigned to patients with the CCP virus. The state continued to allow other operations, including elective surgeries, to be performed.
“Today only 6 percent of the current hospitalizations in the state are related to the China virus,” Trump said.

A sign warns against COVID-19 near Tuba City, Ariz., on May 24, 2020. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
He added, “Arizona has also demonstrated success in protecting the state’s African American population. Only 5 percent of patients hospitalized were African American, and African Americans represent just 2 percent of all deaths from the virus.”
Trump also said that the administration has supported the Navajo nation with rapid testing systems and provided tribal governments in Arizona with relief funds. Ducey noted that the resources provided for the  Navajo Nation and tribal nations are in excess of $1.1 billion.
The president acknowledged the potential negative effects that a prolonged mass lockdown has on society.
“Any proper analysis of infection control measures must take into account the short term and long term public health harms, including death caused by a far-reaching shutdown,” he said. “When you shut down, you have many many things that happen, from suicides to depression, to drinking, alcohol problems, to drug problems, to problems with marriages. You have people confined to their house, their apartment for a long period of time, you cause a lot of problems with that also.”
Trump said that prolonged lockdowns “impose a wide range of serious public health threats including higher levels of suicide, drug overdoses and other significant health harms, resulting from the depression that we talked about.”
“Social isolation, economic hardship, it’s been very tough for those people that are put in a lockdown position for too long. Really has been a very tough and harmful situation for many people,” he added. “The fact that these harms are not measured daily here or abroad it makes them really a very serious threat because people don’t know exactly what they are and how bad they are, but I think they’re very bad.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Australia Will Not Be ‘Passive’ Against Coercion and Destabilising Forces in the Indo-Pacific: PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled that Australia will not be “passive” against Beijing’s destabilising actions in the Indo-Pacific as the communist regime engages in “crude economic or political coercion.”
Australia is also working to rebuild the international order in an attempt to strategically balance global competition in the Indo-Pacific region.
Delivering an address at the Aspen Security Forum on August 3 Morrison noted that the Indo-Pacific region had become the “epicentre for strategic competition.”
Listing the tensions around territorial claims, growing threats from foreign interference, cyber-warfare, and economic coercion, Morrison said: “It’s fair to say that in 2020, our ‘international society’ is under strain.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on July 9, 2020. (David Gray/Getty Images)
“The configuration of power in global politics has changed,” said Morrison, and Australia needs to “deal with the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be.”
The prime minister said Australia will not be a bystander in this new world order and will deploy “all elements of statecraft to shape the world we want to see.”
“We will call it as we see it,” he said.
China and the United States Need to Uphold a Common Set of Rules
Singling out China, Morrison said Australia welcomed China’s economic rise but that “global expectations of China are now higher,” and China must accept that it has a responsibility to enhance and maintain global stability.
China needs to stop pursuing a “narrow national or aspirational interest” and instead consider the “broader global and regional interest,” the prime minister said.
The United States has always been held to such a standard, as it is a major stabilising factor in the Indo-Pacific region, and its continued focus and engagement in the region was vital to the world.
“China and the United States have a special responsibility to uphold ‘the common set of rules’ that build an international society,” Morrison said.

Australian beef is seen at a supermarket in Beijing on May 12, 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
The federal government has recently pivoted Australia’s strategic defence and foreign relations focus on security in the Indo-Pacific region. Currently, Australia is working with its allies in the region including India, Vietnam, Japan, and Indonesia to ward off Beijing’s aggressive expansionist activities in the region, as reported by AAP on August 5.
In recent months the government has also moved swiftly to counter cybersecurity attacks on the nation’s institutions and called out disinformation campaigns from Beijing, Moscow, and Turkey. Beijing has also instigated a long-running trade dispute with Australia slapping tariffs on barley imports and banning beef from local abattoirs.
The prime minister said that in the face of these challenges Australia was “not being passive.”
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Now, we are doing in Australia,” he said.
He pointed to the July 1 announcement of a new Strategic Update which would see the country invest a record $270 billion (US$187 billion) into the Australian Defence Force (ADF) over the next ten years, effectively pushing Australia’s defence spending past 2 percent of the country’s GDP.
Morrison said: “Australia already spends more on our defence than most of the United States’ alliance partners.”

Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Paramatta sails in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House on Oct. 4, 2013. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)
“Two percent of our GDP is no longer a target; it is a floor for us, and we will spend even more … We pull our weight,” said the prime minister.
In 2019, several major economies in the Indo-Pacific region had defence budgets which fell below the 2 percent mark, including Japan (0.93 percent), New Zealand (1.5 percent), and Canada (1.31 percent).
The prime minister also outlined recent efforts to build trade partnerships with “like-minded” nations including India, Japan, and Vietnam, as well as strengthening existing relationships.
“Australia is resolutely committed to our Five-Eyes partnership, and our ever‑closer ties with our friends in Europe,” he said.
“We look to, and share a belief in, the values and institutions that the United States has championed,” Morrison said. “We respect each other as equal partners with the United States. We do our fair share of the heavy lifting. We’ve got each other’s back.”
Speaking on Sky News on August 5, Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong agreed with the prime minister that Australia needs to generate the sort of region that is “not only stable and prosperous, but in which sovereignty is respected.”
However, she said that Australia needs to be aware of not just “a more assertive, more nationalistic China, but also a U.S. administration which is behaving differently to the way in which we have become accustomed to America behaving in the region.”
Wong criticised the prime minister, saying he needed to do more to assist the region, saying there had been an absence of leadership from the government when it comes to the Indo-Pacific.

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Telemedicine Provider Teladoc to Spend $18.5B on Livongo

One of the nation’s biggest telemedicine providers will spend more than $18 billion to stoke an approach to care that grew explosively during the pandemic and recently received an endorsement from President Donald Trump.
Teladoc Health Inc. plans to dive deep into managing the health of patients with diabetes and high blood pressure with a cash-and-stock deal for Livongo Health that’s expected to close later this year.
Shares of both companies tumbled Aug. 5 after they announced the deal, a sign that Wall Street thinks Teladoc may be paying too much for a stock that has already seen a nearly five-fold increase in price this year.
Telemedicine involves care delivered remotely, often with a live video connection through patient smartphones or tablets. Millions of patients were forced to try it for everything from routine care to checkups with specialists after COVID-19 shut down much of the economy earlier this year.
Teladoc said late last month that its total visits tripled in the recently completed second quarter to 2.8 million, and revenue grew 85 percent. The company also said it expects gains to spill over into 2021 when it projects revenue growth of between 30 percent and 40 percent.
Telemedicine has been around for years, and a growing number of employers have offered it to their workers as a way to save money and improve their access to care.
The practice was relatively slow to catch on with many patients before COVID-19. But now there’s growing momentum to keep some of telemedicine’s gains after the pandemic finally fades.
Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said the pandemic accelerated an inevitable shift to more virtual care for patients. He said his company saw a big bump in business because of COVID-19, but Teladoc continues to see higher use rates even in markets where the pandemic has waned.
“People have realized the power of virtual care, and they’re not going back,” he told The Associated Press on Aug. 5.
The Trump administration announced on Aug. 4 that it was taking steps to give telehealth a broader role for patients who live in rural communities and are covered by the federal government’s Medicare program for those age 65 and older.
There’s also bipartisan support in Congress for a broader expansion of telemedicine coverage to make it a more regular option for people living in cities and suburbs.
Health care researchers say they expect the practice to play a greater role in health care once the pandemic finally fades. That’s partly because people have become more used to it, and they may be warier now of sitting in waiting rooms filled with other sick patients.
But before that happens, health insurers need to figure out whether they should make some pandemic-driven coverage expansions of telemedicine permanent and how much they should pay for the practice.
Doctors also see a greater role for telemedicine in monitoring people with chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. That could involve remotely checking blood pressure or blood sugar levels to detect abnormal changes.
In those cases, a patient might receive a call when an abnormal change is detected to see if they need help. That type of monitoring can help keep people healthy and out of expensive hospitals.
Mountain View, California-based Livongo Health Inc. provides remote monitoring for about 400,000 people.
Livongo founder and Executive Chairman Glenn Tullman said the Teladoc deal will make it easier for the patients whom his company monitors to connect quickly with doctors if needed. He noted that many consumers now expect to get help whenever they need it thanks to the influence of the retail giant Amazon.com.
“They’re used to doing that in everything except in health care, where you call up and they say your appointment is two weeks from now,” he said.
Purchase, New York-based Teladoc said Aug. 5 that it will pay $11.33 in cash and a portion of its stock for each Livongo share. Based on Aug. 4 closing prices, that implies a deal price of about $159 per share, which is a 10 percent premium for Livongo shareholders.
The deal makes sense for both companies because it fills in gaps in the services they provide, said Sean Dodge, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. But he noted that the price will invite scrutiny.
“When you pay this much for another company, that heightens the execution risk,” he said. “There’s high expectations for what you do with this.”
Livongo’s stock which traded below $20 as recently as March, has dropped about 5 percent to $136.81.

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Federal Appeals Court Reverses Dakota Access Pipeline Shutdown Order

A federal appeals court on Aug. 5 reversed a judge’s order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline while the U.S. government conducts an in-depth environmental impact review.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday ruled in favor of Energy Transfer, parent company of the underground oil pipeline, saying a lower-court judge “did not make the findings necessary for injunctive relief.”
However, a motion filed by the company to block the full environmental review was declined by the appellate court. It said Energy Transfer had “failed to make a strong showing of likely success.”
The ruling follows a July 6 order from U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg to shut down and empty the Dakota Access Pipeline by Aug. 5 while the Army Corps of Engineers conduct a more extensive environmental review than the one that allowed the pipeline to start moving oil near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation three years ago. Such a review could take more than a year.
The court had previously ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers had violated federal environmental law when it granted a permit for an easement to construct a segment of the 1,172-mile pipeline beneath Lake Oahe, a large reservoir behind a dam on the Missouri River.
Following the order, the pipeline owners, Dakota Access—controlled by Energy Transfer—filed an emergency motion to temporarily stay Boasberg’s order as well as a notice to appeal the decision to the circuit court.
“Appellants have failed to make a strong showing of likely success on their claims that the district court erred in directing the Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement,” the judges said Wednesday.
EarthJustice attorney Jan Hasselman, representing Standing Rock and other tribes who have signed onto the lawsuit, said the appeals court ruling Thursday was not a setback.
“There is more to like than dislike in this ruling,” he said. “There will be a review and a new permit during the next administration.”
He added that the ruling however leaves the pipeline “operating illegally” since it is continuing to transport oil although its permit has been vacated.
Mike Faith, chairman of Standing Rock, which says the pipeline passes through its ancestral lands, said in a statement that the tribe is not “giving up this fight.”
It first brought a lawsuit against the federal government in 2016 in an attempt to block the construction. The tribe is worried that the construction and possible oil leaks would lead to the destruction of its sacred sites and pollute its land and water.
“As the environmental review process gets underway in the months ahead, we look forward to showing why the Dakota Access Pipeline is too dangerous to operate.”
The pipeline owners and its supporters argue that shutting the pipeline down would have serious repercussions for the North Dakota oil industry. They say there is currently no viable alternative method to transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil that the Dakota Access Pipeline is able to carry each day, and that this would drive up prices of the oil.
They also say the shutdown would also have a “reverberating effect” on North Dakota’s economy, which heavily relies on oil and gas taxes.
Energy Transfer spokeswoman Vicki Granado said the ruling “allows this important pipeline to continue to operate” and that the company looks forward to “continuing to work through the legal process to resolve all matters related to this pipeline.”
Janita Kan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US Establishes New Military Headquarters in Poland

The U.S. Army Chief of Staff announced on Wednesday that the V Corps forward command post would be located in Poland and manned by 200 U.S. troops on a rotational basis.
Gen. James McConville went to Poland to promote Maj. Gen. John Kolasheski, V Corps’ commanding general, to the rank of lieutenant general and officially unfurl the V Corps flag there, according to a statement by U.S. Army Europe.
The main mission of the new forward headquarters of V Corps will be “to conduct operational planning, mission command, and oversight of the rotational forces in Europe,” the statement said.
Approximately 200 of them will man the new forward command post in Poland on a rotational basis and the first rotation is expected in 2021, according to the statement.
The Fifth Corps headquarters was reestablished in February after several years of inactivity in Fort Knox, Kentucky, where about 630 soldiers will be stationed.
“The activation of an additional Corps headquarters provides the needed level of command and control focused on synchronizing U.S. Army, allied, and partner nation tactical formations operating in Europe. It will enhance U.S. Army Europe and U.S. European Command as they work alongside allies and partners to promote regional stability and security,” said McConville.
It will support allies and partners in the region and will also participate in military exercise DEFENDER-Europe 21 which will be held next year.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Feb. 29, 2020. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)
The United States and Poland have already completed negotiations on the enhanced defense cooperation agreement, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement Monday.
The agreement will allow the United States to increase its military presence to 1,000 troops on a rotational basis including the new “V Corps Headquarters, division headquarters, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities” in addition to 4,500 U.S. personnel already on rotation in Poland.
The move “will enhance deterrence against Russia, strengthen NATO, reassure our Allies,” and will strengthen the defense capabilities on NATO’s Eastern flank with Russia, Esper said.
Poland’s Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak welcomed the decision to establish forward headquarters of the V Corps in Poland.

MinDef @mblaszczak🇵🇱: we confirm V Corps HQs (Forward) location in Poland. The endured US presence in Poland is tangible proof of the policy of both presidents 🇵🇱🇺🇸 aimed at strengthening cooperation. Congratulations to US LTG John Kolasheski🤝 promoted here at #Kosciuszko Mound pic.twitter.com/Wikcp5630S
— Poland MOD 🇵🇱 (@Poland_MOD) August 4, 2020

“This is a decision that concludes our efforts to increase the presence of American troops in Poland,” Blaszczak said during the ceremony in Krakow, Poland. It is important that this presence is permanent, not temporary, he added.
Last week, Esper unveiled plans to partially relocate U.S. troops that would be withdrawn from Germany to other parts of Europe, following President Donald Trump’s announcement to reduce the military personnel stationed in Germany from roughly 36,000 down to 24,000.
“Various United States headquarters will be consolidated in locations in Europe, outside of Germany, including in some cases, co-locating at the same locations as their NATO counterparts in Belgium and Italy,” said Esper. “This will strengthen NATO and improve the operational efficiency and readiness of over 2,000 service members in these headquarters.”
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.

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Rep. Rodney Davis tests positive for coronavirus, warned colleagues about safety measures last week

Illinois GOP Rep. Rodney Davis has tested positive for the novel coronavirus just days after delivering a presentation on office safety during the pandemic to his colleagues.
Davis, the ranking member on the House’s Administration Committee, posted a letter Wednesday on his official website announcing his diagnosis, which came after one of his daily temperature checks yielded a higher-than-usual result for the congressman.
Davis says his wife and staff have tested negative and aside from a slight fever he has no symptoms and feels fine. The congressman’s attitude toward coronavirus-era work protocols has notably differed from some of his Republican colleagues. He has consistently worn a mask around the Capitol complex and adhered to social distancing rules, when possible.
Davis’s wife is a nurse and cancer survivor, which puts her in a high-risk category for the illness. According to his statement, Davis’ office has “always followed and will continue to follow CDC guidelines.” He is now postponing public events until he receives a negative test. 
Last week, Davis spoke to his caucus about coronavirus safety measures on Capitol Hill.
“Don’t be stupid and become the news story of the day,” he told fellow Republicans, after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) tested positive for the virus last week, following weeks of not occasionally not wear a mask at work.
Recently, there have been reports out of the Capitol that congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle are consistently being instructed to prioritize work over coronavirus safety measures. Some aides have spoken out about being mocked for wearing a mask at work, others report being put in crowded offices against the recommendation of the attending physician.
At present, members of Congress are not submitted to widespread testing at work.

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MS-13 gang members in Virginia charged with sexual exploitation, physical abuse of a minor

Federal prosecutors have charged 11 alleged members and associates of the MS-13 street gang with sex trafficking.
The charges were filed after authorities found a 13-year-old girl who ran away from a group home in northern Virginia, according to USA Today.
MS-13 was originally formed in Los Angeles in the 1970s to protect Salvadoran immigrants from other gangs in the U.S.
The recent charges were unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
The 48-page FBI affidavit reportedly states the girl ran away from her group home in 2018 and stayed at a friend’s house who was connected to MS-13. A child trafficking task force found the 13-year-old girl nearly two months later at an apartment in suburban Washington, D.C. 
The teen was beaten 26 times with a bat, according to court documents, and then sold to numerous gang members and other customers in Maryland in exchange for cash.
“Sex traffickers often prey upon the most vulnerable victims in our society, and when combined with the horrific abuses of a gang like MS-13, the effects can be devastating,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. 
Terwilliger declined to comment on the immigration status of the 11 defendants, saying he expected it would be revealed in court. The next hearing for the case is set for Friday.

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First-time jobless claims drop after two weeks of increases

The number of first-time state jobless claims last week was roughly 1.2 million, about  249,000 less than the previous week and a decline after two straight weeks of increases, the Labor Department reported Thursday. 
Last week’s total was also the lowest total since mid-March, the start of the coronavirus pandemic that shuttered much of the U.S. economy. 

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Los Angeles to shut off water and power to houses hosting parties in violation of virus rules

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti  says he will authorize city utility services to cut power and water to properties where large parties and gatherings are taking place. The rule will go into effect on Friday.
Garcetti made the announcement Wednesday, hours after a city councilman proposed a similar measures be taken against property owners found to be acting in violation of Los Angele’s public health orders and party house ordinance, which went into effect in 2018.
The city’s party house ordinance, prevents any large or unruly gathering that threatens the public safety and welfare of the community from taking place.
“Despite a pandemic that has killed thousands in Los Angeles, some homeowners are choosing to put everyone at risk by renting out their homes to massive house parties. This is irresponsible bordering on deadly, and it must be stopped,” Councilman David Ryu said.
Several days ago, a large house party in Los Angele’s Beverly Crest neighborhood ended with a shooting, in which a woman was killed and two others were hospitalized.
Police found about 200 people at the mansion party when they arrived.

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Democrat says actual death toll is ‘higher’ because families don't want death reported as COVID-19

Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone said Thursday that he thinks the COVID-19 death count in the U.S. is higher than reported because many families don’t want the virus to be cited as the cause of death. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance from April says that a positive virus test isn’t required for a health provider to classify a cause of death as COVID-19. 
Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees health policy, was asked whether he thinks the death count is inaccurate due to a positive test not being required for a COVID-19 death to be recorded.
“In my district, I hear from the funeral directors because of their wanting to have people come to the wakes and all that and the limitations that have been put on and what they tell me is that many times people come to be buried who are not reported as having died from COVID,” Pallone (New Jersey) said on a conference call with Democratic leaders who discussed their report on the “disastrous” way the Trump administration has handled the pandemic.
“And in reality, it’s because the family doesn’t want people to know, or because they know that if it’s a COVID death, that they may not be able to have a wake. So in my opinion, regardless of what the CDC is saying, the reality is I think the death count is much higher. People are not – certifying doctors, you know, loved ones are not – they don’t want people to think that the person died of COVID.”
According to CDC funeral guidance, “there is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral service or visitation with the body of a deceased person who had confirmed or suspected COVID-19 after the body has been prepared for viewing.”
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), House majority whip, agreed with Pallone.
“We’ve detected here in South Carolina, and most especially in my congressional district, that a lot of reactions came after various gatherings like funerals and weddings and stuff that did not get reported,” he said. “And of course, people are now suffering as a result of it. So I do believe that the death toll is probably higher.”
Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck told Just the News that he thinks the death toll is inflated. Buck referred to the Medicare reimbursement rate for COVID-19.
“I don’t think anybody in the country believes that it’s underrepresented in any way or accurately represented, but it’s just a question of how inflated is it” he said.
According to the CDC, the COVID-19 death total is currently more than 157,000.

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Judge calls for Assange testimony in civil suit against Fox News over Seth Rich article

A U.S. federal judge has asked the U.K. to assist in facilitating the testimony of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a civil suit against Fox News brought by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said in a filing on Wednesday that Assange’s evidence “cannot be secured except by the intervention of the English courts,” and that such intervention “would serve to further the international interests of justice and judicial cooperation.”
At issue is a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of Rich, who worked in the DNC’s voter expansion division. Rich was shot and killed in July 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what police suspect was a botched robbery. 
Conspiracy theories following Rich’s murder alleged that he had been involved in the hacking and subsequent leaking of DNC emails prior to death. The emails were published in part by WikiLeaks.
After Rich’s death, Fox News reported that he had had contact with Assange prior to his death. The cable news network subsequently retracted the article, claiming it had not been properly vetteed prior to publication. 
The following year, Rich’s parents brought suit against Fox over the article, claiming the network had perpetrated intentional infliction of emotional distress against them. Fox in turn has argued that, retraction notwithstanding, the article was not a “sham” as alleged by the plaintiffs.
In her request Wednesday, Netburn said that “evidence regarding the source of the leaked DNC emails and the communications (if any) between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks will be highly material to Fox’s contentions.”
“Mr. Assange, as founder of WikiLeaks, is exceptionally suited to provide testimony that will be highly relevant to these issues,” Netburn wrote. “Therefore, Fox News, by and through this letter of request issued by the District Court, is formally requesting the testimony of Mr. Assange for use at trial.”
Assange is currently incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison in London for violating the U.K.’s Bail Act. He is reportedly in dire health. 

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Acting State Department inspector general resigns

The State Department’s acting inspector general resigned Wednesday, roughly two months after his predecessor was ousted.
Acting inspector general Stephen Akard resigned Wednesday and will reportedly return to the private sector.
“We appreciate his dedication to the department and to our country,” the department said in a statement. Deputy inspector general Diana Shaw will serve as the new acting inspector general after Akard leaves Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Trump removed Akard’s predecessor, Stephen Linick, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo complained about his poor performance.
Democrats and others allege Linick was forced out because his government watchdog office was investigating allegations of impropriety by Pompeo.
The Democrat-controlled House on Monday issued subpoenas to four Pompeo aides, arguing the administration is stonewalling its investigation into Linick’s firing.

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Judge calls for Assange testimony in civil suit against Fox News over Seth Rich article

A U.S. federal judge has asked the U.K. to assist in facilitating the testimony of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a civil suit against Fox News brought by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said in a filing on Wednesday that Assange’s evidence “cannot be secured except by the intervention of the English courts,” and that such intervention “would serve to further the international interests of justice and judicial cooperation.”
At issue is a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of Rich, who worked in the DNC’s voter expansion division. Rich was shot and killed in July 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what police suspect was a botched robbery. 
Conspiracy theories following Rich’s murder alleged that he had been involved in the hacking and subsequent leaking of DNC emails prior to death. The emails were published in part by WikiLeaks.
After Rich’s death, Fox News reported that he had had contact with Assange prior to his death. The cable news network subsequently retracted the article, claiming it had not been properly vetteed prior to publication. 
The following year, Rich’s parents brought suit against Fox over the article, claiming the network had perpetrated intentional infliction of emotional distress against them. Fox in turn has argued that, retraction notwithstanding, the article was not a “sham” as alleged by the plaintiffs.
In her request Wednesday, Netburn said that “evidence regarding the source of the leaked DNC emails and the communications (if any) between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks will be highly material to Fox’s contentions.”
“Mr. Assange, as founder of WikiLeaks, is exceptionally suited to provide testimony that will be highly relevant to these issues,” Netburn wrote. “Therefore, Fox News, by and through this letter of request issued by the District Court, is formally requesting the testimony of Mr. Assange for use at trial.”
Assange is currently incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison in London for violating the U.K.’s Bail Act. He is reportedly in dire health. 

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Trump announces plan to delist Chinese companies that won't comply with U.S. stock exchange rules

The Trump administration announced a plan Thursday that will force Chinese companies with shares traded on U.S. stock exchanges to forfeit their listings if they fail to comply with U.S. accounting requirements.
The proposal addresses a long-standing dispute over U.S. regulators’ inability to inspect the auditing standards of Chinese companies that sell shares on the exchanges, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The plan would require Chinese firms listed on either the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Stock Market to comply by 2022 or give up their listings on those exchanges.

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Michelle Obama says she has 'low grade depression' due to COVID19, administration, racial injustice

Former first lady Michelle Obama says she has “some form of low-grade depression,” due to the coronavirus lockdown, the current racial unrest in the U.S. and the Trump administration. 
“Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting,” she said in the latest episode of her podcast, released Wednesday.
“I’d be remiss to say part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest that has plagued this country since its birth,” Obama also said.
She also said that she finds people who refuse to wear masks “frustrating” and that it’s been “disheartening to see so many people who have grown tired of staying at home because the virus didn’t impact them.”

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Citing financial fraud, New York Attorney General seeks to dissolve NRA

New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday announced that she was seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, claiming members of the storied gun rights group have engaged in sustained financial fraud and misuse of the organization’s funds. 
James said at a press conference that an investigation into the company’s finances over the last 18 months revealed tens of millions of dollars in misappropriated and illegal funds. 
The attorney general cited a total of 18 actionable causes against the organization, which is headquartered in New York and thus falls under her jurisdiction. 

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Democrats reject offer for $400 federal jobless extension during talks with White House, GOP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear Thursday that Democratic leaders are sticking to $600 as the amount the federal weekly unemployment benefit should be throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The $600 benefit was included in the CARES Act. The benefit, which expired on July 31, was paid to unemployed Americans on top of their state benefits. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Democratic leaders Thursday for the expiration of federal unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
“One of our senators requested unanimous consent to continue these benefits through the end of the year at a still-historically-generous level. This plan would have also corrected the bizarre choice facing American workers whom the system was actually paying more to stay home than to resume working,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “But that wasn’t good enough for the Democratic Leader, and he objected.”   
McConnell noted that a GOP senator had proposed extending the $600 federal benefit for one more week but Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer objected.
“Only they are allowed to speak,” McConnell said about the Democratic leaders. “Only they among Democrats are allowed to have an opinion. Day after day, they’ve stonewalled the president’s team. Day by day, they’ve tried to invent new euphemisms to create the illusion of progress.”
The Kentucky Republican referred to Pelosi saying on Wednesday evening that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” with the negotiations but “how long that tunnel is remains to be seen.”  
“There are a lot of struggling Americans who could tell Speaker Pelosi exactly how long this tunnel has been. And that it will continue to be endless unless the Democrats let us provide more relief to the country,” he said.
When asked on Thursday whether Democrats had rejected an offer from the GOP to extend the benefit at $400, Pelosi replied, “We have said we’re going to have the $600.”
“They’re just demonstrating their condescension to America’s working families,” she said.
Democratic leaders want to extend the $600 federal jobless benefit though the end of January, while the $1 trillion Senate Republican stimulus plan includes a lower benefit.
Congressional leaders, the White House and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are involved in ongoing negotiations over the fourth stimulus plan.
“We want to see a whole package and they know that we want the $600,” Pelosi said Thursday.
The California Democrat addressed the argument that the $600 federal benefit added to a state jobless payment is more than some workers earned before the pandemic.
“Maybe some of these employers could pay their workers more,” she said. “Just because I wouldn’t paint all of them with that brush, we shouldn’t be worrying about how much it’s going to cost.”
Schumer added, “I don’t know if the $400 has the support of most Republican senators.”

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Hagerty, endorsed by Trump, wins Tennessee GOP Senate race

Bill Hagerty, a former diplomat supported by President Trump, has secured victory in the Tennessee Senate GOP primary race, defeating his top opponent Manny Sethi in a race to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander. 
Hagerty had previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan during part of the Trump administration and he and enjoyed an endorsement from the president during the Senate primary. 
Seth had scored support from prominent Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Tennessee has not had a Democratic senator for more than two decades.

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Armed teens arrested inside Trump's Mar-a-Lago, reports

Three armed teenagers were reportedly arrested while recently climbing a wall at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The teens were fleeing police and carrying a semiautomatic gun when arrested Friday. However, authorities think the teens likely didn’t know exactly where they were, according to CBS News.  
The teens allegedly ditched the backpack contained a mini AK-47 with a loaded 14-round magazine upon entering the resort grounds.
Neither the president nor any family members were at the Palm Beach resort, which is closed for the summer.
An officer spotted the teens sitting in a parked car early Friday morning near Mar-a-Lago, according to a police report obtained by CBS.
A chase ensued, and the teens were arrested with the assistance of a helicopter and police dog. The teens reportedly did not attempt to enter any of the buildings on the compound.

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